"The oldest and strongest emtion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." After reading Maria's blog, a flood of memories came to my mind. I remember coming home from visiting my husband in the hospital. I lived like a zombie then, not knowing what to do, what to expect, I didn't know anything, and I was afraid. Afraid for myself and for my children. I had thought I was hungry but when I sat down to eat, before I had a chance to put the fork in my mouth I picked up the whole plate of pasta and threw it at the wall! And then I screamed. I was afraid and now I was angry. That was over 20 years ago. In a short period of time my whole life had changed. I had no idea what to expect for the future; the unknown! I had few people I trusted at the time therefore no one to talk to. That made my fears grow even more. I don't feel that way anymore, but I know what it's like to be judged. I must have done something wrong to deserve this, right? I spent some time in the hospital last spring. A fine woman, who was dying of cancer, asked me in the most and courteous manner, why I was in the hospital? I told her I had HIV. She shook her head in sympathy but she said: I don't judge you. If I had told her I had cancer, would she have said: I don't judge you? When it was time to leave the hospital, I had to find an assisted-living facility as my energy is failing. The social worker and I found the perfect place. We sat down and talked with the director of the facility and I blithly told her I had had HIV for 25 years. The smile fell off her face, and by the next day I received word that I had been rejected. After all, the director said, she had to think of her other residents. I don't know what she thought I was going to do to her residents, but it was shocking to find that degree of ignorance in 2010. This was a private facility, so we had no recourse to anyone. The director made the final judgement. Then, more judgement came my way, just this past week. I write poetry for a number of websites. I submitted a poem for a contest that was called: HERE COMES THE JUDGE. The poem I submitted was titled: HIV IS A JUDGEMENT. We are invited to comment on each others' work, and one fine young woman wrote an appreciation of my poem and offered to pray for me, which I always appreciate. But then, she went on to speak about the INNOCENTS, like health care workers and such. When I wrote back, I asked why she didn't think I was a health care worker and that like cancer, HIV was a disease. Diseases aren't innocent or guilty. How can people with HIV be innocent or guilty? It's little wonder that women with HIV in their lives remain quiet and isolated if opening their mouths means being judged. People judge what they don't know; people are afraid of the unknown. It's a powerful event to show our faces, to teach people that someone with HIV looks just like themselves.
Stigma is an issue that has been long discussed yet the forums that still project its presence still amazes me. Not long ago a Kenyan minister suggested that all infected persons be locked up in a paliarmentary retreat on HIV...........................we still have a journey ahead
Hello my friend! We've had a time of it lately I guess. But I had to tell you right away, that the question that irks me the most, is the same as yours: HOW DID YOU GET IT? As if that was anybody's business! I got it from my husband. And like yourself, didn't do IV drugs, prostitute myself, drink myself silly. And even if I had done any of those things, it's still no one's business! Well, I'm breathing slower now, thanks for reading the rant. back to peace, love Gisele
This a powerful blog!! Ignorance breeds stigma! and the fear that emanates can be crippling. Its a shame but HIV is often seen as a causal effect of promiscuity and drug use so if you are positive you must have brought it on your self hence the lack of compassion. I feel my status is on a need to know basis. I have no desire to shout about it because either I am looked at scornfully or in a deprecating self pitying mode which I would rather not deal with. Its my story to tell and nobody else's. I have had incredible support from my family and close friends so everyone else can go to hell sort of. My mum still cries whenever we need to speak about it because she thinks her baby is dying. I say to her mum I am very much alive today as I was yesterday and life hasn't stopped in anyway actually I am so enjoying the journey of living.....
That is entirely true... what a great story and supportive statement too. I think us with HIV are living in great sorrow from our fellow human beings. I remember correctly,7 months ago when I told my close friend "I think I have HIV because I have all the symptoms". Take note: I just told her "I think" not that "I have". And suddenly, she wouldnt let me touch her lotion... coz apparently she was afraid... and I also remember going to her office one day and there was an aircone, so I told her her office was cold and she just replied "you and your HIV" right infront of her colleages. I was actually going there to tell her i had actually tested HIV positive but since then I decided not to tell her anything at all and keep my distance because I realised she wasn't a true friend.
Sorry Amanda...but this friend is no friend....period! On my BF learning that I was infected she flew seven hours to come and see me...and on seeing me gave me the biggest hug ever...cried lots( at airport so we created quite a scene) and not once has she made me feel any different than who I was before. If anything she thinks I have become more of whom I was always meant to be. be strong ...stay beautiful as always..xoxo
WOW!!! awesome blog~ I'am so sorry for the ignorance of others :( but you know I feel you! you are so right about everything Celina! it is a shame..another response I get when I disclose is also..wow your hiv how did you get it..you ahd a lot of boyfriends or you did Iv drugs? and I am like damn!! get real angry , but don't show it..and respond !NO, I got it from my first boyfriend!)MY FIRST ) I was around 16 and NO I was not a drug user! it takes one time of unprotected sex..we are judged all the time! and besides having to deal with this illness,the body changes,this part of being judged hurts us deep inside. xoox
Love and Light
i wonder y ppl cnt get it...hiv is a life challenge.Anyone cn get get it anytym.