HIV/AIDS has long been a “hush hush subject” that has been hidden by mainstream society. It is something that everyone knows about but few talk about. Besides the groups of activists such as myself that are trying to spread the prevention message and promote awareness, most people living with this virus keep it an everlasting secret that they will carry to the grave. Much of it has to do with the stigma and discrimination that exists, sometimes people are at risks of losing their jobs, and others are simply private people who do not openly discuss things such as medical issues with others. I think if someone is at risk of losing their job or facing possible violence because of coming out to say they are hiv +, by all means, it is something that should be kept to oneself. However if someone is reluctant to come out and say they are HIV + simply because of what others will say, I say come out of that closet !
Since when do we care what others think about us? I know so many gay men who are open about being gay and receive as much if not more discrimination due to that than if they came out and said they are HIV positive. Yet I know many that will come out as openly gay but not as HIV positive? Does that make any sense? If it is all about stigma and discrimination than what is the difference of what the person is really talking about. I know very few straight people who are openly out as being HIV positive, many times its due to the miseducation and assumptions people will make about them. Who cares if someone thinks I am gay because I am HIV Positive? They are miseducated and ignorant, all I can do is try to inform them so they are aware that this truly can affect everyone. Be comfortable with yourself enough to love yourself. I am not saying that you need to come out to the world with a Facebook post or send Christmas postcards to the family saying I am HIV positive….. However I also don’t think it should be something that is so intense at times people have to hide their identities while walking in offices, keeping ARV medicine in a locked away pill storage container deep within a locked safe, or shredding lab results from the clinic simply so no one will have the chance of ever seeing it.
Maybe since I came out of the “HIV Closet” from the get go I never got the chance to discover what it was like living in there. I can imagine keeping something so big a secret can really get to someone. For me it has helped so much and I have seen the benefits of people being able to openly discuss their status in support groups ext…. It is a big relief to share with others about how we are feeling. Yes I have faced stigma and discrimination even being open about it but not nearly as much as I believe many people think happens. A lot of it has to do with confidence and self worth. If you are confident about your status and love yourself, other peoples words are not going to be able to hurt you. Sometimes people do still have archaic views towards this virus but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost or we should hide who we are simply because its a condition that is transmitted sexually. How many people in this world have sex ? Do I really care if someone says I got HIV for being a man whore when they probably have had unprotected sex just as much if not more than me? No the reality is I do not, people are going to talk about others regardless. People thrive on gossip, let the haters hate, its their job.
Coming out as HIV positive is a very personal decision, I just want people to know that its not so bad here on the outside of the closet. It may seem like a big step to take and it is but do know there are many of us living openly with this virus. It doesn’t have to be the reason and condition that keeps you down, you can be empowered and take control away from HIV. It is simply something that we have to deal with, nothing more or less, while we take our medicine we can live healthy and productive lives. I truly believe by more people coming out as HIV positive, just as activists fighting for their lives did in the 1980’s, HIV/AIDS will be a much more talked about subject which will help in all senses including prevention, research, and reducing stigma. Putting a face to HIV does so much more than simply add a name next to the virus, it shows their is no shame in living with this, we didn’t ask for it and we are fighting it daily. Am I proud to be positive? Of course I do not like to admit or show that because of my sexual irresponsibility I now have an incurable STI however at the same time I did something human. I am not proud of myself but proud of the man I have become. This all wouldn’t be possible in my eyes for me if it wasn’t for me being open about it from the get go.
I have simply always been an open person when it comes to things and maybe thats why coming out as HIV positive was such an easy thing to do. Its not always so easy especially when its with a girl that I like and I know I could face rejection upon disclosure. However I then remind myself there are millions of reasons that someone can get turned down for a date, HIV is simply one more thing that the person can turn someone away for. If it wasn’t my condition it was probably something else that would of shut me down. There are millions of other fish in the sea and confidence in oneself plays a major role.
In conclusion being HIV + is not something that you need to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Its not something that you should care what others think of you, its simply a condition that lives within our blood stream. There is no reason to hide in darkness thinking the worse possible thing in the world is going to happen if someone finds out. It is a personal decision only you can make however I strongly encourage you to look at the pros and cons of coming out as HIV positive or at least being open to telling someone about it, it’ll do wonders for you and for all PLWHA. Whats the worst that can really happen ? Someone gossips ? They do that anyway ….. No one will want to date you ? There are thousands of serodiscordant couples that disprove that. People will be afraid of you ? Well thats a sign they are miseducated and a perfect opportunity to teach them. Many fear what they do not know because they have never met someone living with it. You can be that light that changes their views on people living with HIV. You can be that force of change and hope to the world. Wether you are in the closet or out of the closet I am glad to be your brother fighting along side in this battle. Together we can get through this one day at a time 🙂 .
Thanks for reading everyone and make sure to check out http://www.positivelite.com and all the great work they continue to do. Feel free to connect with me at any of the links below and hope everyone has a great rest of the day.