The current conditions create a safe place to get to know what makes me tick, happy, passionate...
I have told more of my close friends on a one on one face to face talk that I live with HIV. I am owning my truth and I hope they will stay in my life. The reactions will not hinder my commitment to educating everyone I can and, most importantly, ME.
However I must not play into the role of puppet or stigmatizer.
I am seriously answering my own tough questions. What keeps me from seeing the potential I hold? Am I not the same, if not a stronger woman?
For me, allowing others to place labels on me only adds fuel to an already burning rage of unanswered emotions. I know feelings change several times daily; my reaction to such events is the first step to gathering facts and living my truth.
Being able to hear I love you from me to me. That is were I am starting.
The joy I have been receiving is from engaging in conversations about real life. How is HIV transmitted? What is criminalization? U = U means what? How do I get tested? Why is it ok to have sex and pass on other STIs without being prosecuted? Can you ever have sex again? How do you put on a condom? Where would I buy one? Are there sizes? Can I get HIV from drinking after you?
I thought with universal precautions and after 30 plus years of HIV education we should all know these answers... It’s so far from the truth.
So many sexually active people I talk to will bash a gay man, a sex worker, an addict, a hetero sexual man or woman for living with HIV. Yet they don’t understand the first thing about their own sexual health.
This is so saddening. I would like to take the time with each person to learn for myself and educate the next person. In a perfect world we could change the way HIV is talked about or ignored.
In real life it’s been over 3 decades and HIV is on the rise (according to a report by Vicente Arenas CBSNews Aug 14 2015). HIV is on the rise in Florida.
Happily to me, stigma is losing its power each time HIV is addressed openly. The conversations have been funny in a sense the language is wrong. The reflections on HIV and AIDS is still that of the 80s. I can only have patience and try to educate or direct to where fact sheets and accurate information can be found (thewellproject.org, thebody.com, pwn-usa, and the CDC WEBSITE). There are so many ways to educate yourself from the comfort of your home.
A person living with this condition is amazing in their pursuit of life. An inspiration to the community. A warrior; a dreamer. A human with a condition - a treatable condition.
I aspire to stop stigma. I will not be silenced. To all that have been open to talking instead of throwing hurtful twists on a serious chronic illness people are living with, I appreciate your time and space.
I am looking forward to participating in HINAC3 so I can understand how I as a plhiv can help my community without being jailed for living undetectable with HIV.
When I am able to help another better understand how far we have come in science, and how far we still have to come in educating the masses, I feel all the injustice I have endured is worth it.
Helping bring faces and strength to HIV, let’s encourage and build each other up. We are bigger than AIDS. As The Well Project puts it, "Building Hope One Woman at a Time” (or human).
I will not whisper HIV or AIDS !!!!