Originally published December 1, 2019
Last updated December 2, 2019
Posted in Articles, Gender & Sexuality, Health, Reading
Yes, AIDS is still a thing. HIV is treatable and is now a manageable medical condition, not a death sentence. But there is still stigma around it.
Next time you’re at the GP, ask to get tested. As them to throw in a full STI panel next time you’re getting your cholesterol or vitamin D checked. It’s no big deal, and it’s better to know than not.
Yes, even you.
We discovered that you have had HIV for a long time. Maybe years. You didn’t know, and you hadn’t tested. Your immune system was slowly being overwhelmed. I was met with the knowledge that maybe if I didn’t get HIV, if I hadn’t taken the step to ask you to get tested, that this could have been a very different story. A story of hospitals and death. This is how the silence brings harm. It isolates us and makes us vulnerable.
People avoid testing for HIV, because they think that HIV isn’t just a test for a virus but a test of your morality. That in order to be found positive, you have to be a “bad” person; someone who did something wrong. You told me you had avoided testing out of fear, and because you couldn’t see how you could be positive. You’re a middle class, educated guy. Romantic. Monogamous at heart. Along with silence, stigma can also blind us. If we can’t see that HIV can affect anyone, and that all it takes is one risky choice either by ourselves or by our partners, then we’ll never see an end to death from HIV. Never take the steps to protect ourselves and the ones we love.
If I didn’t get HIV, if I hadn’t taken the step to ask you to get tested, that this could have been a very different story. A story of hospitals and death. This is how the silence brings harm.
Newham, Beau. “An Open Letter to the Person Who Gave Me HIV.” Vice (blog), June 18, 2019. https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/mb8kyx/an-open-letter-to-the-person-who-gave-me-hiv
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