There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about HIV, so it’s important to get information from reliable sources. Here are some things to know, directly from people living with HIV right here in Manitoba:
- HIV does not define me: Get to know me before you judge. Understand me as a person first.
- If I didn’t have HIV, I wouldn’t be who I am today: Being diagnosed with HIV changed my perspective of everything in my life. It has challenged me to live above everyone’s expectations.
- HIV stigma is as strong now as it was 20 years ago: HIV has less of a physical impact and more of a mental impact now. The meds help you live much longer but the stigma is the killer. We need to suppress stigma like meds suppress HIV.
- People living with HIV can have families: You can still be in healthy relationships with HIV-negative people and have healthy babies that are HIV-negative.
- HIV is not a punishment; it can happen to anyone: The only difference between me and someone who is HIV-negative is that I have it, not them.
- HIV is like any other chronic illness: I’m just like any other person, I just need to take my pills.
- Don’t ask me how I got HIV: It does not matter how I was infected.
- The medical system can reinforce stigma: Stigma won’t change unless medical practitioners are taught not to discriminate.
- Don’t be afraid of people living with HIV: We are NOT dirty people. We deserve love, respect and dignity. We all have a responsibility as people living in the world to end stigma
- Everyone has a stake in preventing HIV: The responsibility to protect yourself is yours, and it’s important for EVERYONE to get tested for HIV.
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Compiled by Nine Circles’ Lived Experience Advisory, August 2018.
Support for this project provided in part by the Public Health Agency of Canada and The Snowy Owl Monarchist Society.