Living in a world with artificial intelligence, 5G data networks and quantum computing; it really amazes me that people still stigmatize people living HIV positive. All around the world, HIV+ people experience discrimination. Correspondingly, ignorance is the leading reason for this type of discrimination. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be living with HIV.
I think we all must support each other, regardless of our health conditions. We extend support to cancer and diabetic patients along with other non-communicable diseases, but a stigma remains when it comes to HIV and AIDS. The stigma associated with HIV includes harbouring negative attitudes and beliefs about infected people. Consequently, this attitude often affects the well-being and mental health of people living with the virus.
You can play an important role in reducing stigma and discrimination by speaking out to correct myths and stereotypes. Learn which words have a negative meaning for people at risk for or living with HIV and which are empowering. Be intentionally pleasant in your conversations with others. You never know when your pleasant demeanour brings someone to their needed ease.
Increased Awareness Drive
To increase awareness, Good News Jamaica caught up with Tasha Dunkley*, an HIV positive woman, who we were able to have a quick “reasoning” with. With permission, we decided to share her responses to our questions. We hope that listening will motivate you to increase your knowledge on the topic. We also hope that this effort will help to reduce the stigma and increase support.
Question: What is your experience living with HIV in 2020?
Question: Do you know how you contracted the virus? If yes, do you mind sharing?
1: When did you first discover you were positive, and what was your reaction?
2: What steps did or do you take to ensure that you don’t pass the virus on to your children?
3: Are you worried that your children will experience stigma discrimination?
4: Do you think that your status has negatively impacted your future?
5: Are you currently in a relationship?
6: How do you first tell people you’re dating that you’re positive? Do you ever get paranoid about passing it on?
7: Have you ever experienced discrimination for being HIV positive?
8: Do you mind sharing one of your encounters with discrimination?
9: What do you wish other people knew about HIV that they currently seem to be getting wrong?
10: What have you done to raise awareness about HIV?
Know your Status
An unknown positive status has no chance of being treated, so get to know your status today! Learning that you are HIV-positive can be one of the most difficult experiences you go through. You may feel scared, sad or even angry – this is OK, and a completely natural part of coping with something that can be life-changing. But remember, HIV doesn’t have to stop you from living a long, happy and fulfilling life. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live as long as the average person.
*We changed the name and voice to protect privacy.