All posts tagged world aids day7 Posts
- People can submit their photos and captions using the Web form below (the preferred method), on our Facebook page, or by using the #RedRemindsMe hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from Nov. 15 through Dec. 12.
- TheBody.com will moderate submissions and open up voting to the public from Dec. 15 to 31.
- The three most creative and inspirational photos (as chosen by a panel of judges) will be announced by the week of Jan. 12 and rewarded with a great prize. Our grand prize includes an MTV Video Music Awards experience, with two tickets to the LifeBEat/ Time Warner Cable/ MTV VMA Concert and a $1,000 gift card for accommodations and travel. Past performers include: Sam Smith, Kesha, Maroon 5, Iggy Azalea, Macklemore and Robin Thicke. Two runner-up submissions will also be selected, and will receive cash prizes: a $250 gift card for 2nd place and $100 gift card for 3rd place.
For more information about this campaign click here!
BLACK VOICES: HAVING (AND USING) MY VOICE TO ADDRESS STIGMA
My name is Patrick, I am a gay man of color, and I currently reside in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was diagnosed with HIV at a health department in Virginia on December 1, 2011, which happened to be World AIDS Day.
Turning my life into my life’s mission
From the moment I tested positive, I have dealt with stigma and discrimination. I dealt with friends saying they wanted nothing to do with me because of my new status. A person who I thought was my best friend said he would be there for me when I disclosed to him. That was not the case as he began to no-show on events, activities, or previous plans to spend time together. This made me feel unwanted and pretty much like I was transformed from a best friend to a stranger in just a 72-hour period. I turned to Facebook and YouTube to learn more about HIV and find someone to talk to, but couldn’t find someone I identified with. There seemed to be a lack of HIV-positive young people of color talking about what it’s like to live with the virus, so I started my blog, PozLifeofPatrick . I use this site to journal my life living with HIV and address other topics related to HIV, like stigma, disclosure, and dating.
In addition to my website, I am the Testing Coordinator at the rural community-based organization, Fredricksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS) . Through my blog, work in prevention, and advocacy I hope to reach as many people as I can to bring more focus on HIV.
It’s so important that we have a voice.
Stigma and rural communities
When I started at FAHASS, I was briefed on the challenges I might face trying to recruit, educate, and provide prevention services like testing to the Black community in rural Virginia. But nothing could prepare me for the reality which was how people would react to me when they found out I was HIV+. “You don’t look sick,” was something I heard a lot. Staff working for years tell me that HIV-related stigma stops so many people, particularly in rural communities, from utilizing our services because so many people that test positive in our community don’t end up successfully linking to care.
I continue to hear that stigma prevents people from testing, disclosing their status or testing frequency, coming into our agency for prevention tools like condoms, or going to the doctor and asking for a prescription for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Also, I’ve seen how stigma can prevent individuals who are either lost to care or newly diagnosed from being successfully linked to and remaining in care.
Engaging the community where they are
We work hard to educate and empower our Black community about HIV through outreaching to local colleges, community based organizations that serve our target populations, churches, and local health fairs. We have continued to work with the community through our Community Advisory Boards, asking clients for suggestions to better our services, coming up with additional opportunities to test, and working to engage and involve more young people of color. We have a mobile testing vehicle that we can use to reach more people in our service.
Having (and using) my voice
In my time at FAHASS I have tested and educated many young black same gender-loving men. Through our outreach and testing efforts we have tested more people who ended up being HIV positive, the majority are people like me, men under the age of 25.
As a person living with HIV, I talk to providers on what it’s really like to live with the HIV and help debunk myths or misconceptions, including information about PrEP and PEP. I also work with the providers about how to effectively work with the LGBTQ, HIV-positive, youth, Black, and Hispanic communities to provide them with the tools to meet them where they are at on a more personal level by sharing my story through my blog and videos. Because I am a part of this community, I can help normalize HIV and equip people with the knowledge to help prevent new HIV infections and get people into care.
By being so open about my status, I’ve been able to establish “roots”. Like roots on a tree, I have a strong system network of friends. Friends they now stand up for me. Friends that support me. Together we fight stigma. And they give me strength to share my voice and share my story.
We all have a voice and something to share. Will you stand alongside me? Will you share your voice? Will you help me to be part of the solution?
This article was originally from Blog.AIDS.Gov
The following blog entry was from my blog on TheBody.com
Now officially into my second year living with HIV I take time on World AIDS Day, the day I was told I was HIV positive, to reflect on still being here to see another year.
I will never forget noticing how much weight I lost, the thrush alongside my tongue that I scraped off due to denial, and that cough I ignored. I had always seen myself as invincible or perfect, and never able to be infected or at all affected by anything like HIV.
Finding the strength I decided to pick up blogging and soon after did my first YouTube video, titled “How I Found Out I Was HIV Positive,” where I talked about my lack of knowledge and concern that I had for the virus. My feelings of perfection and misunderstanding as a young gay man at great risk to contracting HIV led me into an abusive relationship with a cheater. Also, I had no idea just how vulnerable I really was to a virus that affects so many individuals worldwide. At that time those things were the most I was ready to discuss.
Now two years later, with boundless therapy, discovering and loving who Patrick is, and focusing on my dreams and goals, I am no longer afraid of what others think. You see, the reality of my situation is that I was also taken advantage of against my will. That very well could be the reason I have HIV. What people who are blinded by stigma don’t realize is that many infected with HIV are forced to have sex against their will: fooled by one’s thought of a monogamous relationship; having unprotected sex to be able to survive on the streets after being kicked out of their home; or in an abuse relationship that has no room for negotiation of condom use.
While many people have unprotected consensual sex, many of those who did not have a choice are forgotten and called words from lips I would never kiss my own mother with. People who are sexually assaulted like me are forgotten about and placed under the description of “over-sexualized homosexual.” I strive very hard to break that thought process. The reality of the situation is that it does not matter how one was infected with HIV but what they are doing to take control of the situation and better their lives.
Too many times have I found out that friends have gone off medication and have given up, simply due to listening to someone’s conspiracy theory surrounding HIV and how it is not real. So many times have I received an email in the middle of the night from a parent who is desperate for help because their child has been either exposed or harassed over social media because their HIV status was leaked for one’s sick enjoyment. We people living with HIV need to take the necessary time to focus on building back up our confidence and our armor that protects us from the stupidity of stigma so that we can be strong enough to show people that living with this virus does not define who we are or what we may have done in our pasts, but what we are doing to stay empowered, adherent to our medications, and reaching our goals of having an undetectable viral load and a fabulous quality of life.
On this World AIDS Day 2013, I acknowledge that work still has to be done with me. I will create new goals that will ensure that I will have continued success with having a suppressed viral load. Also, I will challenge myself by moving forward with my work to reduce stigma, educate those who simply need more knowledge, and encourage those affected to stay in the winning war against HIV.
Patrick is a gay African-American male who is living with HIV. Patrick was diagnosed December 1, 2011 (World AIDS Day). Never the kind of individual to accept defeat, he has worked hard to spread awareness, education, resources and support to his community.