Guest Writer Spotlight: Working to end HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination
I’m a heterosexual man living with HIV. HIV/AIDS is a condition that affects us all; gay, straight, latino, black, white; you name it. If you have never been tested for HIV, I would highly recommend you do so because not only you are taking control of your own health by doing so, but you are protecting yourself and the ones you love in the process. It has also recently been shown that if you test positive, getting into treatment immediately will allow you to live a long life comparable to a person who is not living with HIV and will allow you to stay healthier for longer as well. Not to mention, being on treatment renders it almost impossible to transmit HIV to others.
HIV/AIDS is not the death sentence it used to be back in the 80s and today with the newer treatment options available, it has become a manageable condition. Unfortunately, there are still social issues attached to HIV/AIDS; stigma being one of them and one we have been fighting to end since the start of the epidemic. People living with HIV are stigmatized and discriminated against for various reasons which can range from misinformation regarding the transmission of HIV, fear, hate; because people believe that those living with HIV deserve it because of their sexual promiscuity, drug use or other reasons.
Another issue is the issue of AIDS denialism. There are groups of people who believe HIV doesn’t exist, testing is worthless, the medications used to treat HIV are the cause of AIDS and not the virus, that people who are ill and have tested positive are ill because of their lifestyle issues, malnutrition, drug use etc. I was once a prominent voice for the denialist movement but I left and disassociated from HIV/AIDS denial in general after a few life changing experiences had me open my eyes to reality.
I stumbled upon the denialist information while researching information on HIV/AIDS and many people find this information by doing the same or because they are introduced to the subject of HIV/AIDS denial by someone who is already affiliated with the movement or has found interest in what they have to say and they feel like sharing this information with others. Questioning is fine and whether or not a person decides to start treatment for HIV is their own personal choice, but I believe that before someone makes that choice, they should be properly informed about HIV/AIDS, the consequences of HIV/AIDS denial and untreated HIV.
The following page has excellent information that I believe everyone who has been exposed to HIV/AIDS denialist information should be aware of. Remember, questioning, being in denial or just being curious is one thing; risking your life by eschewing treatment for HIV is a risk you should consider very carefully. Don’t play with your life; it’s not worth it.
The following links are pages with great information regarding HIV/AIDS. Feel free to read up, inform yourself, inform others and get tested and if you happen to be positive, remember you can live a long and healthy life living with HIV if you get on treatment as soon as you are diagnosed. If you test negative; continue practicing safe sex, protecting yourself and getting tested every 6 months to update your status.
About the writer: John Strangis is a freelance journalist and blogger who writes about crime incidents, cooking, food, recipes, news, and discussions regarding issues happening around the world today.
John tested positive in 2011 after learning that his life partner, Jessica, was living with HIV.
John now advocates for the people who are suffering because of HIV/AIDS in the hope that he can somehow make a difference. He believes he can turn his negative experiences into positive ones which might possibly help others from making the same mistakes he and his partner made.