by Bradford McIntyre
WE NEED EVERYONE WHO IS HIV POSITIVE TO COME OUT
IF WE ARE TO GET RID OF THE STIGMA ASSOCIATED WITH HIV.
2004 - The United Nations Population Fund has declared
HIV/AIDS is a young people's disease. Individuals
between the ages of 15 and 24 are infected every 14 seconds. That
means a total of 6,000 people a day are being infected with HIV.
HIV disclosure is necessary if we are going to prevent the
spread of AIDS. HIV prevention methods are not working.
It is up to people who are infected to disclose the fact that they
have been infected with HIV.
After living in fear and having moved so far away from family
and friends so no one would see me get sick or die, an extraordinary
woman came into my life. She told me "I had suffered long enough
and hard enough and it was time to get on with my life"! Undoubtedly,
I knew this was true! Is this not true for many of us? Have we not suffered enough?
I had been living in fear and alone for 4 years. Would I spend another
four years or longer, alone and waiting to die? Right then I decided to
turn my life around and that was the beginning for me, the beginning of
showing up for life! Without fear!
Having disclosed you are infected with HIV eliminates
the dis-ease associated with hiding the fact that you are HIV positive.
That means, you can feel comfortable, confident and not have fear
when you disclose to a sexual partner. You're not going to have
added stress, worry and guilt. If you don't disclose to a partner
right away, when you do decide to tell them, they are going to ask
why you didn't tell them. This is when problems arise! There may
be those who are afraid and withdraw, but there are people who are
not afraid and who will be there to support you. How
can anyone receive the help they need if their family and friends
are not aware of what is going on in their life? Many who
are living with HIV are afraid to disclose, but have never disclosed
to anyone! They assume that everyone will pull away. You can tell
people that you're HIV+ and they not run away. There are many people
living with HIV who have loving family and friends and are in relationships.
My partner is not HIV+.
We have moved from a time when there was no understanding
and no treatment available to where we now have a much broader understanding
and treatment options. It is the people who are HIV+ without disclosure
who are keeping the stigma alive and many may cause the spread of
People who are living with HIV are not asking to be different.
However, the stigma attached to AIDS is still causing people to be afraid to disclose.
Depending on where you live, it may be impossible for some people to disclose
their HIV status. I am concerned that the reason they do not disclose,
is because they are afraid. This is due to the fact that they do
not feel safe! Concerned with discrimination!
Efforts to ensure safety must be a priority and efforts
must be stepped up! Governments have a responsibility to educate
the public and assure individuals that their rights will be protected
and discrimination will not be tolerated. It must be made clear
to those who do discriminate that they will be dealt with and prosecuted
We need everyone who is HIV positive to come out
if we are to get rid of the stigma associated with HIV.
We must recognize the reality that people who are infected
with HIV are using supplements; vitamins, herbs, botanicals and
tinctures in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. They are using alternative
and complementary therapies that have been successful in eradicating
the virus and bringing down the viral load. Many have been fortunate
in reducing the viral load to undetectable. They have been able
to increase the efficacy of the HIV/AIDS medications. They have
been able to improve and reduce the side effects of the drugs. They
have been able to boost the immune system when the medications could
With or without HIV medications, there ARE
millions of people around the world using nutrition and alternative
and complementary therapies to combat HIV and AIDS. The
supplements and alternative therapies are readily available but
there is a monopoly that exists among the pharmaceutical companies
and the medical profession, so alternative therapies are not given
there fair share of recognition in treating HIV and AIDS. To achieve
this recognition, we need the voices
of individuals infected with HIV to stand and have their voices
heard and counted. How long will people
sit on the sidelines letting others do all the work?
I often think about the countless people, who in
the beginning of this epidemic worked tirelessly to break down the
barriers of fear and discrimination in their own lives as well as
for the sake of others. Also, they worked successfully at preventing
the spread of AIDS! Many died in the process! What would they think
if they were to see that today we are still afraid to disclose HIV
infection and that many continue to spread HIV?
We need to ensure that people infected with
HIV are cared for. People need proper food, clean water, sanitation
and every available means to combat HIV and AIDS. I too may not
live to see a time when everyone who is HIV positive is no longer
concerned with confidentiality issues and is free of fear and discrimination.
For as long as I can, I will continue to work at breaking down the
barriers, just like those who went before me! They
made it possible for me to be OUT ABOUT HIV!
By Bradford McIntyre
Vancouver, BC, Canada
copyright © Bradford McIntyre