It’s time to think positive about HIV and end HIV stigma. But what does that really mean, and how? Well, for starters, it’s time to be an ally.
Whether you’re a friend, a family member, a hook-up or thinking about getting serious with someone who’s HIV positive, being an ally means you accept and treat every person living with HIV as an equal. It also means you’re a genuine supporter and an empathetic mate. Everybody deserves respect, right?
It’s time to be a mate
Imagine someone is newly diagnosed with HIV. They may be feeling overwhelmed and worried about how their diagnosis may impact friendships, hook-ups and relationships. They could be dealing with stigma, which can be a distressing experience for people living with HIV (PLHIV).
If you put yourself into the shoes of this person living with HIV, would you want to be treated with acceptance? With that in mind, if a family member, mate or hook-up living with HIV discloses their status to you, that’s the time to be supportive. In this moment, you can make a big difference in someone’s life simply by being an HIV ally.
When a person discloses their status, sure, it may catch you by surprise. But as challenging as it might be for you, it is likely even bigger for them. So, to be an ally for them:
- Acknowledge what you have heard and understand their disclosure is an act of respect.
- Let them know you value that they’ve been open to you with this information.
- Let them know that nothing has changed in your relationship and check in as to where you can offer support.
- Be kind.
Disclosing a positive HIV status can be a very significant moment in someone’s life. A person is trusting you with important, private information, so as an ally, always respect their privacy. Remember, being an HIV ally is about being a mate. That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
It’s time to trust the science
We get it. If a family member or mate discloses to you, you may have some concerns about their health and future. However, it’s important to understand that medical advancements with treatment mean that people living with HIV can live long, normal lives.
As an ally for poz people, now’s the time to do your research so you can support your family member or mate in an objective way and ease your own fears.
Likewise, if you are a gay guy out on the playing field, it’s likely you’re interacting with guys who are living with HIV. They might very well be the hot guy you just met on Grindr or Scruff. It may even be with a guy that develops into something more serious.
Either way, if you’re hooking-up with a guy who tells you he’s “undetectable“, rest assured that guys living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass on HIV to sexual partners. Undetectable means untransmittable or “U=U”, and it’s as simple as that.
To further support PLHIV, take control of your own sexual health. Being a strong ally means learning about PrEP, condoms, and undetectable viral load, and actively making informed decisions around HIV prevention. An ally understands that staying safe comes from choices that are within their own control. This makes guys who are living with HIV feel supported (and sexy) when hooking-up.
It’s time to come together
In the spirit of thinking positive about HIV, it’s time to arm yourself with empathy and education to make your friendships, relationships and communities stronger. It’s in your hands to have calm conversations, judgement-free interactions, and treat HIV positive people as equals.
Ending HIV stigma is a collective effort, and every HIV negative person in the community is a potential HIV ally. We’re relying on you to be a mate, to trust the science and to accept who you love.
Check out our new campaign, It’s Time to Think Positive, here. Featuring PLHIV and their allies, it highlights honest and heartwarming stories to give you an insight into how we can all help end HIV stigma. For each and every one of us, it’s time to be an ally.