Just a chronic disease, or Five Comments on HIV
December 1 is the World AIDS Day and Day of Solidarity with HIV-positive People
There should be taboo on discrimination, not HIV-positive people. The guys from Zaporizhzhia have told us more about HIV.
Kostiantyn, 22 years old, student, HIV-negative
The action of collecting the books for HIV-positive people was launched in our city few days ago. Its mandatory prerequisite is that all books must be life-affirming. I am confident that the project will cheer up not only those whom the books are dedicated for, but also those who have donated them.
I think that such actions really motivate people living with HIV. Such work should be given special attention, because HIV-positive people still face discrimination in society. Having the information, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones and at the same time to support HIV-positive people.
Volodymyr, 29 years old, HIV-positive
Personally I have never experienced discrimination because of my status, I have been never deprived of anything. Probably, it’s important to be sure that the doctors of the ordinary medical facilities are well informed about HIV and to achieve their full tolerance. Though I have not faced such problems, I know that the problem of discrimination still exists.
Serhiy, 35 years old, HIV-positive
I think these people need the support of their loved ones. After all, these people do not differ from others. HIV is not a sentence, and the HIV infection has long ceased to be a fatal disease. It’s just a chronic disease. Such people should not be afraid of, and even more so be discriminated on these grounds.
Maksym, 20 years old, HIV-positive
In my opinion, the most important expectation from my HIV-negative friends is informational support in their environment to overcome the taboo of this topic. For example, in some circle, as occasion offers, my friends always may say that he/she has an HIV-positive boyfriend or girlfriend, and it does not affect their friendship. It happens so because when people have true information, they become free from the stereotypes, prejudices, and, most importantly, the irrational fear of HIV-positive people.
Oleksandr Vytvytsky is the deputy director of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Charitable Foundation “Gender Zed”. Within the HIV prevention field, the organization is engaged in rapid HIV testing, counseling, distribution of condoms, lubricants, information materials, social support, as well as carrying out various educational activities.
– One can live with HIV. What is the problem that people are still afraid of those who have HIV-positive status?
The problem is in the decades-long campaigns, which have “grown” the fear entitled “AIDS is PLAGUE of the 20th century.”
Although, tremendous breakthroughs have occurred since that time. HIV may be controlled when there is early diagnosis, regular testing, and, if necessary, taking antiretroviral therapy. The most important thing to know is that people do not die from AIDS as it was 20-30 years ago.
Many people do not even try to find out how HIV is transmitted. So sometimes, to be safe, they start to cautiously treat the HIV-positive people or those who are associated with possible HIV status (homosexuals, injecting drug users, sex workers, and some other groups).
However, it has long been known that you can get infected with HIV only:
- during unprotected sex (without a condom),
- during some manipulations with blood (for example, sharing non-sterile tool)
- from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding (only in rare cases if during pregnancy a woman does not take special therapy that could prevent HIV transmission to a baby).
Communication, life together, and tolerant attitude pose no danger.
Judging by my experience, those, who are equipped with at least basic information about HIV infection, are more tolerant towards the HIV-positive people.
Media are the important tool of forming the image of HIV-positive people. Sometimes, the journalists distort and present false information to make the story brighter. Doing this, they ultimately harm the HIV-positive people, escalating the situation around this topic in the society.
– What is the most frequently asked question among your clients?
The question about the risk of getting infected through different sexual practices, such as anal, oral, vaginal kinds of sex.
They also ask if one can get infected after a single unprotected contact.
HIV-positive people very often ask how to tell a partner, whether to tell or not, and how not to infect a partner.
– How can people, not directly affected by this issue, support the HIV-positive people?
First of all, I want to stress the importance of preventive work with different groups of people.
Another pressing issue is constant raising public awareness about HIV infection not only to stabilize the HIV epidemic but also to reduce stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people in society.
QUESTION TO READERS:
What would you do to support a HIV-positive friend or stranger?