Archive for the ‘General’ Category

“She grabbed me in her arms, put me in her arms, and whispered in my ear ‘we will get through this’ to hear those words by my mother were like…it was the most amazing moment in life.”

Adrian Neil Jr. Shares his heart warming story about when he was first diagnosed.

 

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Thomas shares the moment when he told his parents he was HIV+ and talks about what the year was like disclosing.

Sources: CDC Fact sheets (Understanding the continuum)

12/07/2014

By Benjamin Di’Costa

IMG_0297It’s World AIDS Day, and researchers, advocates and patients are taking measure of efforts to combat the spread of HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the estimated 1.2 million Americans who have HIV, 86 percent are aware of their status. However, just 40 percent are receiving medical care for the virus. One barrier to treatment could be the persistent stigma that many HIV-positive young people face. Here’s a relevant scene (and one that’s not uncommon in this, the Year of the Young Advocate):

World AIDS Day 2014… And here I am a  young gay male—urban, professional, culturally and politically savvy—walking down the street in the “Gayborhood” called Wilton Manors here in Fort Lauderdale. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in sight.  in which it’s common to see men walking hand in hand to the local Starbucks, or making their way to their morning workouts when out of nowhere I hear from across the street shout, ” You are not worth life and you should die!” says the middle aged gay male.

Being a person who faced discrimination for being gay I just blew it off and kept walking down the street when another younger gay male mumbles under his breath “Dirty Faggot”. Now at this point I was taken back by this statement being that I was in a LGBT neighborhood where pretty much every lifestyle was accepted. What was it about me just walking down the street that caused such negative reactions from the community?

I look down and realize that I was wearing my No Shame in Being HIV+ Shirt from RiseUptoHIV and then it all hit me at once that this in fact had nothing to do with my sexual orientation but was solely about me wearing a shirt with HIV+ written on it? As I continue into a local Starbucks that morning and then notice the countless stares and whispers that were coming from patrons enjoying their morning cup of coffee.

Here I am a young 24 year old gay male who actually doesn’t live with HIV but I am in encountering countless acts of HIV stigma within my own community. Up until this point I had never understood what it felt like to be stigmatized and when I sat down and really reflected on what just happened a wave of emotion just hit me, I realized that at the end of the day I can take off this shirt and the stigma ends but what about those who are living with HIV? Those living with HIV don’t get to choose when the stigma comes and when it goes it is something that is commonly faced within the Gay and Bisexual community particularly minority communities.

So you may be asking, What now? Where do we go from here? 

There are many ways we can all fight HIV stigma in our lives and in our community, whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative:

  • Break the silence surrounding HIV stigma in our community. Talk about your experiences, fears and concerns about getting HIV or transmitting HIV with friends, a counselor, or a fuck buddy.
  • Learn how to better deal with and react when a guy tells you he has HIV.
  • Take responsibility for the prevention of HIV. The prevention of HIV is a responsibility that all gay men share – HIV-positive, HIV-negative and HIV status unknown.
  • Challenge attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to HIV stigma. Don’t be a silent witness to it when it happens around you.
  • Avoid using language that overtly stigmatizes others.
  • Treat guys with HIV as you would treat anyone else: with respect, empathy, and compassion.
  • Get informed about how to protect yourself from HIV and be confident in that knowledge. We know how to prevent HIV.
  • If you have difficulty playing safe, take charge of your sexual health and get the help you need to ensure you do not get infected with or transmit HIV.

Are there other things you can think of to fight HIV stigma?

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And remember Positivity Is Everything! 

IMG_4830

Right now it’s about 5:47AM here in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area and I am just sitting on my balcony having a cup of my favorite Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee reading some news and blogs before I get the day started.  Besides Kim K. Breaking The Internet..Soft Core Porn Photos, Protests from Ferguson, or how President Obama is ruining our country. I then stumble upon an article that shows how a Coffee Ceremony has become the new HIV Prevention method in Ethiopia and was surprised at how effective it has become.

It is 11:00 a.m. at the antiretroviral therapy (ART) unit of Gandhi Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Women have been arriving slowly over the last two hours for their monthly coffee ceremony discussion. The reception area is transformed—condoms and pamphlets swept off the table to make way for a colorful tablecloth and a bowl of flowers. Popcorn is popping, coffee brewing, and the aromas of coffee, popcorn, and incense mingle in the air. Smiles appear on the women’s faces as they enter the room and rekindle their monthly friendships

As the coffee ceremony participants begin to seat themselves in a large circle, laughter erupts on the far side of the room. Two women share their story with the others.

One woman ran into her neighbor at the hospital this morning and the neighbor asked, “Oh, why are you here?” The first woman did not hesitate to reply that she was visiting a friend who was sick. When she asked her neighbor why she was at the hospital, the neighbor quickly gave the same response. Thirty minutes later, both women found themselves seated at the coffee ceremony. They laughed as they spotted each other from across the circle; one comments that now they will be real friends and not just neighbors! Their story became an ideal introduction to the group’s discussion on stigma and the lies people tell, without hesitation, to their own neighbors and family members to avoid the shame and discrimination of living with HIV in Ethiopian society.

Over the next few hours, they drink coffee, listen, and discuss their experiences as a counselor leads them through the agenda. The program does not use a specific facilitator’s curriculum, but the counselors from PCI and the hospitals have been trained and develop the topics themselves, setting topics in advance. The topics, as always, cover ART adherence, nutrition, and opportunities for producing food at home. Other topics are added based on current events and issues noticed along the way, as well as a variety of issues raised by the women themselves. Many women linger afterwards, building friendships and sharing stories about how they cope with the challenges of living with HIV

After reading this article it really began to set a persepctive for me on how we have it so wrong in our society. So many times instead of meeting people living with HIV where they’re atwe tend to treat HIV+ individuals as numbers or a deliverable so we can get a raise when evaluation time comes around. But even something as simple as having a cup of coffee and conversation shows that it can create a lasting bond thats supersedes any prevention program or training that we as providers have previously been accustomed to. So next time you’re speaking to a friend, peer, or client why not sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know the person behind the number.

 

Remember Positivity Is Everything,

Benjamin

Article By Kara GreenBlott Via AIDSStarOne

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 26, 2014 by Benjamin Di'Costa in General, Happy Holidays
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Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from ThePoz+Life Team! We are thankful for all of those who have supported us since we started in 2011 and we are excited for what is to come!

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