Why have I allowed you to define me?
I hate you, HIV!
I hate that you make me think so low of myself. Now I’m stuck with you and constantly reminded of my vile actions. What am I supposed to do with this burden? I’m dead inside because of you. I hate myself because of you. I’m stuck in time wishing I loved myself more. I want to take my life back! I have to take my life back or you will win in the end. I’ve given you too much power. I need to be set free of you. I’ve lost out on dreams because of you. I’m afraid to love because of you. I feel like I have nothing to live for because of you.
I want to forget you! I want to destroy you. I want to kill you. I’m so sad because of you. I’m not living because of you. I’m running because of you. I’m mourning because of you. My presence is nonexistent because of you. All of my actions are because of you.
Why do you haunt me? Why can’t I just accept you? Why can’t I press forward with you behind me? Why can’t you lead me toward the cure? I want to be happy regardless of you. I don’t want to shrink inside when I hear your name.
So many whys and not enough answers, that’s a life of a poz guy and that’s how it affects them both physically and mentally. The stigma, shame and embarrassment around HIV/AIDS continues to affect the increase of this epidemic among gay guys like me.
Many people still believe myths that date back to the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s or 90s.HIV doesn’t discriminate. People can contract HIV as babies during birth or breastfeeding, as well as through blood transfusions, sex, or sharing needles. No one deserves to be judged, shamed, praised or pitied, because of how they contracted HIV. There’s no reason to ask people living with HIV about how they contracted the virus that’s personal information that everyone has the right to keep private.
Stigma might come from myths, but the effects are real. People with HIV face poor treatment in educational, healthcare, and work settings, the erosion of their rights, and psychological damage. Some are shunned by their community, which may mean losing their home and livelihood. Stereotypes about who is at risk of HIV affect people who don’t even have the virus.
Fear of stigma and discrimination is the main reason why people are reluctant to seek healthcare services, disclose their HIV status, and take antiretroviral drugs. An unwillingness to take an HIV test means that more people are diagnosed late, when the virus may have already progressed to AIDS. This makes treatment less effective, increases the likelihood of transmitting HIV to others, and can cause early death.
People who are marginalized including trans women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and drug users, face legal and social inequities which put them at higher risk of HIV infection. Many people experience multiple forms of discrimination not just that related to their HIV status, but also with respect to gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. This can affect people across many components of their lives.
People with lived experience of a disease or social reality deserve a voice in decisions that affect them. This means that people with HIV must be at the forefront of the movement to end HIV and AIDS stigma.