OUT ABOUT HIV
- Canadian Bradford McIntyre,
HIV+ since 1984,
speaks out about HIV
In Vancouver, at the Artists for Life event held on September 12, 2010, Bradford McIntyre performed a reading of his speech, 'OUT ABOUT HIV', first delivered at the Vancouver 20 Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Vigil,
May 25, 2003.
OUT About HIV. My name is Bradford
McIntyre and Im Positively
Positive! I have been living, infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) since 1984!
I feel very fortunate to be sharing with you!
There is more power in people knowing I am HIV positive,
than there ever was in the fear and hiding. The answers are in
letting go of fear! Society has created a huge closet housing
many shelves. Shelves for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgendered,
but even more shelves housing drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual
abuse, physical and mental abuse, bulimia, anorexia, cancer, AIDS
(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), dis-ease and disease.
It is time for us to come out of the closet and tell people what
is going on in our life. Then and only then can people know what is
going on, support you, and if need be, offer help. We dont have
to go through life alone. There are people who will show up if we let
them know who we are and what is going on in our life. Instead of deciding
what others can handle or know, it is time to come out of the closet.
Then and only then can we be our true selves!
So much fear has been created around HIV infection
and AIDS. The camouflage uniforms worn in the army, disguise and
hide, so as not to draw attention, able to blend in. The fear associated
with HIV and AIDS has kept us in the dark. Many have feared losing
their family, friends, home and job, causing people to hide the
fact they have been infected with HIV. The results are that no one can see, hear
or know the truths of those living with HIV. Most often, when individuals
die from HIV related illness or AIDS, the funeral announcements
rarely say AIDS was the cause, but use cancer, heart disease or
any other camouflage. How can we tell the real number of HIV related
deaths? How can the public know without the truth? We are in the
dark because the whole picture is not being told. Individuals
dealing with HIV and all those around them who are affected but
not infected, they know these truths.
What we don't see are the great numbers of individuals
infected with HIV living a happy and full life.
We don't see or hear about individuals infected
with HIV, who have never had any immune suppression and have never
had any HIV replicated in their bodies. We don't see all the people
who were in wheelchairs due to neuropathy, wasting or other complications,
who recover and return to wellness. We don't see or hear about
HIV infected mothers who gave birth and now, their children are
grown and they are having children. We don't see it because
people are afraid to talk about HIV and AIDS or disclose
they have been infected. We don't have them coming forward to
tell their side of HIV and AIDS. How are we going to get people
to come forward when the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS has created
so much fear?
People are hiding their HIV infection, yet it makes
no sense to believe that everyone who is infected will get sick.
This is likened to the early days of cancer, hiding the fact,
only whispering the C word. Everyone who develops cancer does
not die. It makes no sense to believe everyone who is infected
with HIV will get sick or die, either.
In the media, we are rarely shown people who
benefit from the antiretroviral drugs and have their health restored, many returning
to the work force. We don't see or hear about individuals who
test positive for HIV or have AIDS, in relationships, falling
in love. We don't see the many relationships, where one partner
is infected with HIV and one is not and the partner who is negative, is
Even though it has been nearly 30 years since the
emergence of the AIDS virus, there still exists today fear and
discrimination for those infected. Even with the progress and
success in treatments and fewer deaths, people are still afraid
to tell others that they have been infected! The fear and hiding
continues because most people are not willing to come forward
and have their voices heard. Fortunately, there are some people who are
NOT afraid to talk about the fact that they have been infected, who
are working to create awareness and education in the many issues
Initially, we didn't understand the AIDS virus and panic occurred.
Today, we have moved from a place of confusion and little knowledge,
to a place where we have a much broader understanding. Now,
we can eliminate the fear and promote a new awareness, relying
on education and a wide variety of treatment options. With choice,
there is hope!
With proper awareness and education, we can go about
living our lives responsibly, "showing up for life", without fear.
Unafraid, we can tell people we are living with HIV, talking about
HIV, or conversations about safe sex. Letting go of the fear,
we can talk with our family and friends and to co-workers with whom we discuss
our personal lives. Our employer can know health related
information. If need be, we can ask for help and receive
help! Also, we can eliminate false perceptions and judgments that
were created from not having the right information and prevent
the spread of HIV and AIDS.
These years spent cohabiting with HIV have taught
me a great deal. I learned about my spirit, my mind and body.
I searched for and learned about alternative and complementary
therapies and incorporated them into my life. I chose a healthy
lifestyle and worked at being responsible for how I think and
feel and for what I put into my body. I exercised my mind and spirit
and my physical body. I learned the power of faith and prayer
in healing, our own as well as the faith and prayers of those
who care and love us. And I will say it again... I learned there
is more power in people knowing the truth, than there ever is
in fear and hiding. I learned the abundance of life does not come
from what one provides for oneself, but it is found in our connectedness.
I would not be where I am today if it were not for all the support
and love from the many people in my life!
I would like You to take a moment to look around. See each other. See we are all connected! Whether You are affected by, or infected with HIV, we must cross those boundaries of Fear and Discrimination. To join Our Hearts, To Lift Our Hearts, in the realization we are ALL here to Love one another. I join with you that we create a shift in thinking around HIV/AIDS, and All disease! Love is the way!