This is from a Facebook post that is a lifesaver if you ask me. HIV Stigma is such a huge thing and most people blow off HIV and think they will not come down with complications from it or die from it. With so many ways to get tested now you do not have to worry about going into a clinic and seeing piers to do it. Just go into a Walgreens or CVS or pick up an oral test online. Getting tested though is not the concern it is getting treated and you MUST get treated if you know that you have the virus. Let’s come together and fight this stigma not only on World Aids Day, December 1st, but everyday.
Recently I had a friend (who shall remain nameless, of course) confide to me that he is HIV-positive. He had concealed this from most people, including me, for far longer than I would have guessed. In fact, when I asked him how long it had been since he found out, I expected an answer in terms of weeks or months at the most. In actuality he had been HIV-positive for at least two years, if not more, and by this time he was noticeably experiencing more and more symptoms of an immune system under duress. The reason he disclosed his status to me is because he wanted advice on how to go about seeking medical treatment due to his lack of insurance. Understandably, many uninsured individuals are wholly ignorant of the options available to them, especially when it concerns diagnoses as serious as HIV. The fact that he went two or more years without treatment, though disturbing since treatment should begin as soon as possible after discovery per emergent recommendations, is not what disturbed me most. What disturbed me most was the fact that he was not wholly ignorant of the options available to him but was afraid to utilize them because of perceived stigma. When I mentioned a facility in his city that provides linkage to services like prescription medications and further medical testing for the viral load and T-cell count, he told me he was aware it is there but he was afraid to make an appointment because he did not want to risk being seen by others he may know. This tells me that there truly is a disconnect between what is perceived by the general population and what the reality is.
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