My HIV Fear: Losing Control Over My Narrative

Submitted on Nov 17, 2023 by  Zora Voyce

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A Girl Like Me blogger, Zora Voyce.

Living with HIV, my biggest fear isn't the virus itself; it's the fear of losing control over my own narrative. It's the fear of being reduced to a stereotype, a statistic, or a societal misfit simply because of my HIV status.

Unfortunately, HIV is strongly associated with sexuality, a link that I profoundly disagree with. This association often causes people to shut down, closing their ears to information that challenges their preconceived notions. As a result, my voice often goes unheard, drowned out by the cacophony of misconceptions and stigmatizing narratives.

Our society has a way of using our sexuality to belittle our worth. It perpetuates a false narrative that engaging in sexual activity outside the bounds of monogamy is deserving of punishment. This narrative confines us within a narrow framework of acceptability, stifling our individuality and autonomy.

Despite these challenges, I've chosen to openly talk about my HIV status and my sexuality. However, a part of me fears the repercussions. I worry that some individuals may view me negatively, which could potentially affect my job prospects, particularly if employers prefer candidates with conservative lifestyles.

Being open about my sexuality can also lead to the misconception that I lack self-respect because I don't conform to the societal norm of the "relationship escalator." This prescribed path to partnership often disregards alternative relationship structures and choices.

Not conforming to society's expectations can threaten some people, leading them to believe that I engage in sexual activity to harm others, simply because I have HIV. It conveniently fits into the shameful sex narrative that our society has constructed.

Unfortunately, individuals with such beliefs may go to great lengths to criminalize me in their misguided attempts to protect others from perceived dangers. They might spread misinformation about me through various means of communication, from social media to even threatening to involve law enforcement, all based on predetermined stereotypes about people with STDs.

For most people, the fear of HIV is rooted in the fear of being taken advantage of sexually, particularly for those who are HIV-negative. For those of us living with HIV, we often fear judgment and unreasonable discrimination.

However, these fears can diminish when we openly share our experiences and fears with each other. Engaging in open, honest conversations about sex and HIV can help break down barriers and dispel misconceptions.

So, I'd like to know: What are your HIV fears? Let's open up this dialogue. Share a picture of yourself and tag other people you know who are open about their HIV status. Let's build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Together, we can challenge the stigma and reclaim control over our narratives.

#HIVAwareness #BreakTheStigma #OwnYourNarrative


This blog was originally posted on My Purora.

Submitted by Red40something
3

I love this. Being able to control your own narrative is important and empowering. It hurts my spirit a little each time I meet a woman (any person really!)  who has had the right to control how they chose to disclose (or NOT) their HIV story by some thoughtless or cruel statement made by another person. Humans often take away our right to choose via judgements and running their mouths, so I find telling my story my way empowering. 

Thank you for sharing this encouragement and reminder. I agree there is an unnecessary sexualization of HIV and it excludes other impacted communities from the narrative when their stories and lives matter too. Continue to be amazing! <3

Submitted by Nitanita
2

Thank you so much for the perfect and thorough description of exactly what the stigma is, and how it not only can take away our narrative, but runs our life. I sat and walked in silence for years because I was that person that judged and STIGMATIZED MYSELF. There wasn't enough of HIV education to help me to stop the anger I held against myself. I finally learned that it wasn't them, it was me allowing their narrative to control my life because I held the same beliefs within myself. I so appreciate you addressing narrative issue with such perfect detail.

 

 

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