HRC Blog

The Power of Positive

The following post comes from HRC Consumer Marketing Assistant Bryce Romero:

On the day that dreaded, “You’re HIV positive,” news came, I looked to my very dear friend and said: “Well, I guess that’s that settled.” Little did I know that we were in it for the long haul.

Over the years, HIV and I have sparred repeatedly over control of my body and my mind. In the early days, HIV and an associated case of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia ravaged my lungs and put my Master’s degree dissertation in jeopardy. With a T-Cell count of 15 and a viral load in the millions, things were looking grim- an almost certain defeat. But with the help of allies, dedicated doctors and sensible science, we turned the tide and fought back. Round 1: HIV 0, Bryce 1.

Then came the stigma battle, and boy, was this a long round. From selectively halting antiretroviral treatment in hopes that the problem would just go away to constantly fearing that I would be ostracized and outcast by friends, family and community, HIV and the associated stigma were wreaking havoc on my psyche. But again, thanks to a strong network of friends (old and new), family and advocates within the LGBT community, I’ve rebounded and have come to embrace my positive status. Round 2: HIV 0, Bryce 2.

For many HIV+ individuals, their personal struggle with stigma doesn’t go so well; it can be more deadly than the virus itself. For others, the harmful effects of stigma only enhance their personal resolve and provide a catalyst for self-improvement and positive living. So how do we answer the question: what can be done about stigma?

As a community, we have a responsibility to nurture a stigma-free generation. From having open, honest conversations and shining light on the prevalence of HIV in our community to developing a culture of inclusivity, we can turn the tide. Knowledge is power, especially when used for the greater good. Today, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, many folks took a moment to learn their status, not only for themselves but also for any others who they may meet in the future. This is just the first step. We must resolve, as a community, to overcome an ignorance quotient by sharing our stories and starting a dialogue. By opening our hearts, we can and we will change minds. Together, we can do this.

I’ve shared my story. Will you share yours?

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