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Getting to Zero: What Stands in the Way?

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Michelle Lopez

Michelle Lopez

Brooklyn, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1991

We are struggling to really address the issues surrounding stigma and discrimination. We as a people need to accept people for who they are, and be nonjudgmental, and not use someone's status to define who they are. We should be able to allow people to be who they are, and embrace people for who they are. We are still very far away from zero, because we are not doing those things. We are still very far away from getting to zero new infections. We have to be able to allow the gay man to be who he is; we have to be able to allow the gay youth to be who they are; we have to be able to allow a person who is an immigrant, because that's the population that I identify with, I'm an immigrant, and I've been living in the U.S. for the last 29 years. Eventually, I do want to go back to my island in the Caribbean, Trinidad. The Caribbean is at least 15 to 20 years behind the progress we have made today in the United States as far as HIV. So, globally, if we want to impact the stop of this disease, we have to be able to address these social issues, and stop sweeping these issues under the rug, because it's uncomfortable for some people to talk about it. We are way far away, and until we start addressing those things in a realistic manner, we are zero. We are zero on stopping these new infections.




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