Here are 5 things people with HIV want you to know. Despite huge steps forward in the treatment and the research for HIV cure, there are still many misconceptions around HIV. Hopefully, the below points will help you change these misconceptions and challenge stigma.
1. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
“People with HIV have come to signify danger. To mix in a risky metaphor, we’re seen as the viral terrorists walking among you, our virus primed to explode,” Gus Cairns (diagnosed with HIV in 1985) blogged on HuffPost UK.
“Untrue. We’re not bad people. Anyone can catch HIV in an unguarded moment, during a bad period in their lives or just through bad luck.”
2. You can still have a family.
In 2015 Andrew Pulsipher, from Phoenix, US, posted a photo of himself with his wife and three healthy children to dispel myths that having HIV means you can’t have children.
Pulsipher has been HIV positive since birth, having had the disease passed on from his parents. He and his wife had their three children through fertility treatment.
“Having a negative family can be the most positive thing in your life” he said.
“I know HIV has a negative stigma, but it doesn’t have to and I want to help change that. It is a treatable disease and you can live a normal life with it. I am proof of that.”
3. There’s a lot of shame involved with HIV.
Paul Thorn set up the radio show HIV Happy Hour to raise awareness of what it’s really like to live with the illness.
He told HuffPost UK learning to manage internalised shame is a huge challenge after diagnosis.
“I lived for many years feeling ashamed because I have HIV. It has prevented me from going for jobs that I wanted and seeking relationships with people who I found attractive because I thought they wouldn’t would want me,” he said.
“That kind of feeling can exist in the very core of you to the point that you can’t stand the sight of yourself in the mirror. It has taken me many years to realise that I am worth something and to start caring about myself, maybe even love myself a little.” Read: Don’t be afraid of your flaws, acknowledge them
4. You can still get tattoos.
There are no documented cases of HIV transmission due to tattooing, but due to common misconceptions around the illness many people do not realise this.
Rob Curtis previously told HuffPost UK of how he was turned away by a tattoo artist after telling the receptionist he was HIV positive.
“I was also really shocked that this would even be an issue. I had told the studio that I was HIV+ and taking anti-viral medication which means it’s not possible to infect someone else,” he said.
“The artist should have known this, so I felt really disappointed that she was letting her stigma get in the way of her art.”
5. Being diagnosed is a good thing.
Philip Christopher Baldwin was diagnosed with HIV in 2010 at the age of 24. He says being tested and receiving a positive diagnosis is better than living in ignorance.
“If you are HIV positive and do not know, your health could be compromised. Two-fifths of HIV positive people in the UK are diagnosed late,” he blogged on HuffPost UK.
“By testing negative you put an end to any doubts that you may have about your HIV status. Test positive and you can start treatment, thereby ensuring you remain healthy.”
Culled from HuffPost