This year, World AIDS Day was really special, as I was invited by the Eddystone Trust to come to Taunton and speak at your event. Taunton is in the beautiful south-western region of Somerset. Organizers have invited more than 80 people living with HIV from all over the region, from Devon, Dorset and even Cornwall. Obviously they are people living with HIV in smaller cities and rural areas and this is very different from what we, who live in a big city like London, where anonymity is relatively easy to get.
People often live far from each other and can be very isolated. It was clear that the event was extremely important to them, as many traveled over two hours to reach the site. I was part of a fantastic group of speakers that included my dear friend Robert Fieldhouse Baseline magazine - upgrading treatment, and Ant Babajee, talking about his journey from diagnosis to activism
Instead chic, the event was held in the horse racing grounds. Unfortunately there was no rush on, to distract my nerves, and as I had the honor to open the conference as keynote speaker and set the tone of the day. Nothing less! I felt my heart racing like I'm racing against horses.
I opened my lecture saying, you know what is the question I hate most?
"As you have contracted HIV?"
I know the question is often an excuse to judge me, and to find out exactly what I did to bring this horrible disease for me. I wish I had a very tragic story to tell: how I was a pure and innocent young virgin and a horrible man lied to me. However, guess what? I was not so!
I came to know my HIV-positive diagnosis for HIV a few days before my birthday 30 years.
I was not "innocent", and I was not ignorant. I knew about the facts around HIV and how it is transmitted, but this was not enough to protect me. Reality is always more complex and, to tell the truth, it is painful to look back.
I know several things made me vulnerable to HIV as being a young woman: first, I struggled with mental health in low and suffered from depression throughout my adolescence and for much of my youth; and as a result of my depression I had very low self-esteem, then I grew up in the very Italian sexist culture of 80 years. For young women looked like a "lose-lose situation. "
You were made to be released and emancipated, but at the same time, enforce the use of condoms was seen, at best, as "spoil the party", and at worst as if I was doing it (...) by slutty .
Being a pretty girl and a very low self-esteem, this was a recipe for disaster, and it is not a surprise that I came to have the problems I had with drug use, unhealthy and abusive relationships, and finally, I took the HIV positive diagnosis for HIV.
What worries me, in 2015, is that the situation is not much better for young women who are sexualized and oppressed forever in ever younger age, with a visible sexualization of pre teens and tinagers (translator's note: young people between the ages of aa 14 us, within a legal system that considers the relationship of a man with a 50 years 20 woman as a possible relationship of sexual abuse).
Despite this whole context, our focus on HIV prevention seems to be moving away from any consideration of the structural causes of vulnerability to HIV.
Now, we are saluting biomedical interventions, such as preparation and treatment as prevention, as our saviorsAnd there is a false hope that we medicalize us out of the epidemic without addressing many of the problems that lead to HIV transmission. A record number of young homosexuals have been diagnosed HIV positive this year and in the past year. We know that mental health and drug and alcohol problems are extremely common in this group. We know that despite the advancement of the LGBT movement, we still live in a very homophobic society and grow up as gay many times, exposes young people to bullying and other hardships and abuses. Much more could be said about this and about the fall of the sex education curriculum and of relationships that do not address sexuality and gender issues adequately (Translator's Note: In Brazil, this simply does not exist because of the irresponsible action of the evangelical bench).
We must not ignore how all this increases the vulnerability of young gay people to HIV. Of course, I am all in favor of PrEP being available as soon as possible for those who are at high risk for HIV, but I also want it to be part of a comprehensive prevention package, which includes better access to information, a greater support for the issue of mental health and drug use for LGBT youth. It is not one or the other; we should have PrEP on par with holistic services that address other structural issues that influence the choice and behavior of each.
The key messages in this World AIDS Day is: we will not in medicalize outside the HIV epidemic; unless we begin to address stigma, HIV will continue to grow in our communities. Stigma of HIV remains a barrier for people trying to access services, including prevention, treatment, care and testing.
So my questions to my audience of people living with HIV was: what can we do, as people living with HIV, to end the stigma?
I believe one of the most powerful tools we have is to talk about HIV.
I know it can be very difficult for many of us, but I think even if we tell some friends, or our family circle, each time we are able to talk honestly and clearly on HIV, there will be a little less stigma in the world.
We can not expect the stigma of HIV simply would disappear or expect other (s) person (s) to do it for us.
In the history of social change, change happens when those who are directly affected, oppressed and marginalized rise and demand to be treated with dignity and respect.
This is true throughout history, from the suffrage, to the civil rights movement, for the LGBT movement and anti-colonial movements etc. It's about ordinary people who take the reins of a given situation and end up generating collective action.
I know for some people it can be very difficult, and even dangerous. I'm not saying that is absolutely for everyone. Some of the men in Eddystone event spoke about how difficult it was to take-gay in a rural community, and how difficult it is upon this burden also add the burden of this stigmatized virus.
I can understand that.
But there were people in the room who had begun to be public seropositive, or talk to more people about HIV, and they had some positive feedback!
It was important for them to see that, as a collective of people with HIV, we want to move towards greater openness. There were many still hesitant, and I hope that the event will give them a little more inspiration and motivation to be just a little more open to dialogue about your health.
To conclude my talk I showed Positively UK film: We are positive part of our social media campaign is to end the stigma about HIV and, what is more, the stigma against HIV-positive people (seropositive). In the movie, people living with HIV, and some of our friends and supporters spoke up to dispel the myths surrounding HIV through simple statements about HIV which is not HIV. The hashtag campaign is #wearepositive. Please, if you use social media such as Twitter or Facebook help us promote the message.
Translated and adapted for Brazilian Portuguese by Cláudio Souza. Reviewed by MTM on 19 Afternoon of March of the original 2015 AD Stigma will end When people living with HIV are visible and heard
Note Translator and Seropositive Web Site Editor: It all comes down to a phrase whose origins I know not:
Yesterday, escondíamo us to survive. Today, shown ourselves to live.
The fact is that, almost twenty years ago, to confess (note the verb) seropositive was the last sentence could you tell a person.
I remember a torrid affair I had with a girl, with whom I had a good deal of understanding, until one night she told me that she loved me and that she wanted to come and live with me.
So I sat solemnly on the edge of the bed and told my serology.
She froze for a few minutes, and when he got up, he said, need to get out a bit, in two hours I'll be back ...
And never again !!!! This ... Because he loved me ...
Today, at least that's what seems to me, though I am married and do not skip, meeesmo, about. But I do not know how would be the reaction of a woman, five minutes before going to bed with me, had a revelation as bombastic as it is!
Finally, the girl he loved me or not returned to take his clothes and belongings ...
Que c'est sad Venize