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HIV Stigma (and My Lover Jack) at USCA

September 14, 2010

At the United States Conference on AIDS in Orlando, I've learned that HIV stigma is alive and well. Providers report that client will travel to distant counties to get services just so they aren't recognized -- and that's if they bother getting tested in the first place.

In this video episode, we discuss stigma and the cunning role it continues to play, even among my friends. Now that we don't look like we have HIV, it's a lot easier to stay quiet about it -- and encourage those who might judge us for being positive.

Jack Mackenroth of Living Positive by Design makes a welcome appearance to remind us what being an out, engaged person with HIV is like. Jack discusses his program's goal of reducing stigma and encouraging patients to get their HIV viral load under control, in partnership with their doctor. And all that chatting between us gave me just enough time to consider what my fantasy relationship with him would be like. (It looked fairly wonderful, I must say. Until it didn't. Watch the video and see what I mean.)

Meanwhile, congratulations to the National Minority AIDS Conference and their director, the formidable Paul Kawata, on another successful conference event.

You know who are the real unsung heroes of my videos? The people I grab at the last second and say, "excuse me, would you please hold this camera and film me, please? And hold it just like this, and don't shake at all, and stop when I tell you, and ..." I've had perfect strangers do this (what? you thought I had a camera crew?) but on this trip for instance, those good sports included Oriol Gutierrez of Poz Magazine who had the misfortune of being seated next to me, and Olivia Ford from TheBody, and Alison McKeithen from NMAC, and Rachi Govil, who was assisting Living Positive by Design -- all of whom had better things to do but I thank them anyway.

Have you disclosed to someone lately, so they might know someone with HIV and help reduce stigma -- or are you feeling the effects of HIV stigma yourself, and unable to disclose comfortably? Is stigma better or worse for you than it was a few years ago?

Thanks for watching, and as always, please be well.


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