The holidays are upon us once again and here I am in prison, still. There are obviously two ways to look on this whole situation. The negative side of things is I'm locked up, I can't spend the holidays with family and friends. Blah, blah, blah. I have been locked up so long all I know are holidays in prison. The days still come and go, time doesn't stop for us in here.
What an interesting year-end 2015 has been.
On the homestretch, we have actor Charlie Sheen's disclosing his HIV status and bringing HIV back into the news along with all the needed controversy about stigma causing activists to raise their voices loud once again and educate the public.
Most people want me to be repressed and repentant, I'm convinced.
For a short while, I wanted them to believe I was. It would be some comfort for them, if I cared enough about their judgment to hookup less than I did before receiving my results from a test many of them aren't brave enough to take.
These are exciting times for those of us working and living with HIV. There are promising new treatments in development, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has added a significant additional resource to our prevention arsenal, and there is talk of seeing the end of the epidemic in our lifetimes. This optimism is reflected in major worldwide goals. UNAIDS, for example, has endorsed 90-90-90. That is, by 2020 at least 90% of people will know their status, 90% will receive sustained antiretroviral medication, and 90% will achieve a suppressed viral load. Policy reforms such as the National HIV/AIDS Policy acknowledge the role of stigma, mental health concerns, and health disparities.
Well, this blog is long overdue.
It's World AIDS Day 2015 soon and the holidays are upon us. I just returned from the 11th annual HIV cruise retreat. It's taken me a moment to catch my breath and organize my thoughts as I truly found the experience both exhilarating and exhausting.
With Charlie Sheen's disclosure of his HIV status, undoubtedly comes weeks of stigma-driven media coverage that those of us living with the virus have learned to expect. During his highly anticipated Today show interview with Matt Lauer, much of what he was asked regarding his sexual behavior perpetuates fear and shaming of people who are HIV positive.
The subtle moment came during the second segment of Matt Lauer's explosive interview with actor Charlie Sheen. It impressed me so deeply I actually backed up my recording and watched it twice more.
This year's annual United States Conference on AIDS was held in September in Washington, D.C. The focus was on the social determinants that have proven to be the stubborn factors that continue to contribute to the steady rate of new infections. There is much to celebrate about how science has developed medicines that are helping to control the progression of HIV in those who have been diagnosed as being carriers of the retrovirus. There is still a great deal of work needed to be done to improve prevention efforts, deploy educational strategies, and diminish or extinguish the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
Right now is the moment for the light to shine on thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS who have been killed, bullied, tortured and more, simply for being HIV-positive.
Charlie Sheen, an A-list celebrity, was bullied into disclosing his status.
When actor Charlie Sheen said, "I'm not living in that prison anymore" I felt that deep in my soul. It resonated loud and clear. I kept my own HIV infection a secret for seven years. For Real!
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