The Goal and Challenge As We Celebrate World HIV / AIDS Day
Instead I have a goal and a challenge for the readers.
The goal is to know your HIV status before January 1st 2013. If you already know your status, engage your friends and family so they get tested and know their status.
HIV testing has become more convenient and accessible with many local chain drug stores offering testing on site or selling home HIV testing kits over the counter.
It is true that HIV is no longer a death sentence but this is only if the individuals infected know their status and seeks the proper treatment option that is right for them.
Millions of people are living normal longer lives because they know their status and are getting the treatment they need.
Communities of color continue to be plagued because there is stigma attached to HIV that it can only be contracted through male homosexual contact. Those educated know this is not true but many community barriers like ignorance, intolerant religious talk or just plain silence continues to allow HIV to ravage communities of color.
The challenge I have for the readers is that we try to stop stigmatizing people with HIV. HIV does not belong to one particular group or continent. It cannot be spread from a hand shake, a hug or a smile. People living with HIV are our coworkers, friends, family, lovers and they are a part of our communities. They are healthy because they know their status and they are receiving treatment that is keeping their viral loads in check.
There are many HIV positive individuals who outlive HIV negative individuals in our communities who die from hypertension, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancers. Just as these diseases are manageable, so is HIV.
I was shocked to learn that man countries around the world ban or restrict those with HIV from coming into their borders. You also have many other countries that actually deport their citizens if it is discovered they are HIV infected. Some examples are below…
I am HIV negative. That doesn’t mean I could not have been infected…meaning I have done plenty of stupid things and placed myself in careless situations to where I could have easily been infected. Those of us who are HIV negative should not shun, judge or look down upon our brothers and sisters who are positive. Some of us HIV negative folk get up high on a pedestal when the only real reason we are on the pedestal is because we dodged the bullet.
Another way we stigmatize HIV is by giving it scary nicknames. As if the three letters are not enough. We call it “the package” or “the monster” just to name a few. The result is furthering many not to get tested, pushing some into hiding or denial because some may not want to face the reality and be honest with ourselves that we may have done something careless or risky that could have exposed us to this virus.
The Challenge – Stop stigmatizing people with HIV. HIV does not belong to one particular group. It cannot be spread from
a hand shake, a hug or a smile. People living with HIV are our coworkers, friends, family, lovers and they are a part of our communities.
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