I recently encountered the harsh reality of the stigma that goes along with being HIV+ once again. One of my bestest (lol) friends was accused of being HIV+ because she hangs out with me. I often forget just how horrible people see me sometimes until it creeps up like this. I have to remember that being open about my status, in hopes of opening some eyes, there are sometimes consequences that tag along with this. People are STILL very ignorant to the subject and choose to not educate themselves because they don't feel they have to. My biggest fear is that my children will be ridiculed for having a mother that is HIV+. Kids tend to follow what their parents teach them and by what they see.
This is going to sound REALLY crazy but I can remember at the age of 14-15 my mom had "The Talk" with me and told me about many of the diseases out there and that if I ever got AIDS, as she worded it, there would be nothing she could do. Seems really scarey to me to look back and remember that talk. As a teenager I thought "that won't happen to me", "only slutty girls, gay guys. and IV drug users get it". There was education back then but not like we have today. Teenagers still have the mentality that "It won't happen to me" just as I did over 20 years ago.
I wish so badly to be able to reach out and touch folks and put it in their faces that HIV is still very real and that there are many people each and everyday being infected. Then the fear of ridicule sits in. The stigma reaches out and grabs my heart and rips it out. I am who I am and even with the ignorance of some, I will still continue to march on and share my story in hopes of reaching someone. I know I need to stand tall with my head held high because I have been infected for as long as I have and not been truly sick. I can only pray that the barriers will crumble down and folks will take this virus serious and all it takes is one time to become infected.
Having the support of all of you has greatly helped me, I'm not feeling alone amongst all the HIV negative friends I have. I am unsure of how much more I can do to get people to listen to me. I have still had friends and family, after knowing about me and how I was infected, still go out and have unprotected sex. It is so frustrating to me. It seems that they won't take it serious unless I am sick or not feeling well and even then that's a reach. Not sure how we can all help get rid of this ridicule and stigma but it will not be for a lack of trying on my part. Much love to you all!!! Thank you for letting me vent lol