Gay men reveal what life is like living with HIV - WATCH
HIV is more manageable than ever, but despite improvements in health outcomes for people living with HIV, stigma is still rife.
Not only can this contribute to mental health problems - the Terrence Higgins Trust reports that HIV positive people are twice as likely to be suffering from depression); it can also accelerate the spread of HIV, with people putting off getting tested for fear of how a positive result will impact their lives.
To help tackle the stigma that HIV positive people face, sexual health charity GMFA have launched a new campaign called 'Living With HIV', which brings together a range of HIV positive men from different backgrounds, who discuss how their status has impacted their lives.
Despite the huge range of people interviewed, each reveals that HIV hasn't been a barrier to enjoying life and relationships, with one commenting that "HIV has not affected my life in the slightest," while another noted how his HIV diagnosis allowed him to "turn [his] life around."
The men also offer their advice on dealing with HIV stigma: "Be open and honest about HIV and then people can't use it against you."
Explaining the reasoning behind the campaign on the GMFA website, interim CEO Ian Howley said: "HIV stigma is still a massive issue for those living with HIV." "In 2016, people living with HIV should not be feared or made to feel ashamed for having the virus. Although recent work by GMFA and others has helped shift some of the stigma associated with the virus there is still a huge mountain to climb. He continued: "In our recent survey, 90% of the HIV-positive men said they believe that stigma about HIV is likely to discourage gay men who’ve tested positive from disclosing their status to others (friends, family, sex partners, etc.) – and 75% are themselves reluctant to tell others for fear of stigma.
"For HIV stigma to be truly banished, attitudes within the gay community and beyond must continue to be challenged in order for them to change. HIV stigma doesn’t just affect those living with HIV but also those who are afraid to test for HIV because they’d ‘rather not know’. "This type of attitude can be dangerous and lead to late diagnosis (meaning less effective treatment and more chance of passing on HIV to others)."More stories:
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