Sorting Out Confusion- Youth Style
The information about HIV is so confusing on any given day depending what we read and who we listen and speak to. Here is a sampling of what is out there in terms of information about HIV and people living with HIV.
There are few/no real side effects with the new medications.
Young women living with HIV report early menopausal symptoms.
HIV is a manageable chronic illness.
However we are not eligible for life insurance with this manageable chronic illness
We can expect a life span like anyone else.
We could die from a common cold.
Non disclosure of HIV is a criminal offense, a felony, with up to a 30 year prison sentence.
Do not date a person living with HIV.
Reject people living with HIV on the dating scene.
People living with HIV cannot transmit the virus if they are on consistent treatment with an undetectable viral load. We pose no risk.
I got an HIV test after I kissed an HIV positive person on a date.
I am taking PrEP to protect myself from contracting HIV but I will not have sex with a person who is HIV positive.
Scientists state that PrEP is a proven preventative measure for HIV.
Heart disease, diabetes, early onset of menopause, high cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, neuropathy, fatigue, diarrhea,nausea, insomnia, hallucinations, weight gain/loss are side effects of HIV and medication.
I feel fine, I am physically active, I feel healthy.
I am clean, disease free, you better be too.
No I do not have a problem with HIV but can we just be friends?
My partner is not living with HIV and I am. He/She remains negative.
I am HIV positive and I had a baby who was born HIV negative.
I am HIV positive and my HIV negative partner had a baby who is not living with HIV.
Why do I have to keep my HIV status a secret with some people?
Why are most people in the general public afraid of my HIV status?
Stigma, stigma, stigma.
Disclose my status and get rejected, abused, denied intimacy and sex.
Don’t disclosure my status and be denied intimacy and sex.
Potential sex partners have no obligation other than to assume my status is not HIV positive.
No condom is needed if my viral load is undetectable.
I am not contagious, I cannot transmit the HIV virus.
If we are taking complete responsibility for disclosure how will this benefit other sexually active individuals? Just ask, we have to tell! What if they do not ask anyone as they assume it is the duty of others to disclose? You have to disclose mentality, intervention was doomed to and is failing because of the imbalance in responsibility.
We feel singled out.
This is not old information, most of it contemporary, immediate.
We are immobilized with fear, confusion and anxiety.
Lead a normal life, do not let HIV dominate your life. Compartmentalize it, put it in perspective.
We are potential criminals.
HIV is not a crime.
Don’t ask but prosecute later.
I feel normal in every way until I have to disclose my HIV status. The problem is not with me, it is with the reactions of others. Reject but expect disclosure.
We put out a call for youth volunteers to contribute in this process to present the facts and give consistent messages. Their brain storming, dialogue and creative contributions are underway. Obviously it is a slow process, given the complexities. We will keep you updated on our progress and share what is developed as a contribution to clarifying the confusion presented here. Stay tuned.
The HIV Disclosure Project Team And Collaborators