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People We Love: Caressa Cameron

Miss America raises awareness about HIV.

Caressa CameronMiss America 2010 Caressa Cameron entered her first beauty pageant as a way to speak out about HIV and AIDS. Her uncle, who lived with her family, died from AIDS when she was 8 years old. As he struggled with the disease, some of the community avoided the Cameron family because “in Southern Baptist Virginia, people didn’t talk about sex,” Cameron said.

By age 16, Cameron was speaking about HIV and AIDS in churches and schools. Those venues didn’t always welcome her—until she was crowned Miss Fredericksburg Fair in 2005.

“That’s when I knew there was something more to this whole pageant thing,” Cameron said. “Schools were more willing to let me come in.”

Being crowned Miss America allowed Cameron to spend a year traveling and speaking about sex education at events as varied as NASCAR and World AIDS Day. She plans to finish her degree in broadcast journalism and continue her work with sex education.


Oliver Lazenby

Oliver Lazenby wrote this article for Beyond Prisons, the Summer 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Oliver is an editorial intern at YES!

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