By John Poole, Achieving Together Partner
I am a 29 year-old, black, gay man who has been living with HIV for four years. My community is a drastic part of the epidemic. Even with the adoption of PrEP, the U=U campaign and Treatment as Prevention, there are still so many hang-ups and so much “HIV- phobia” going on. Even in a world where we have managed to decrease the risk of transmission to almost 0%, we still have to battle stigma to this day.
We need more people living with HIV to speak up and be represented. Because of stigma, no one wants to be that face. I want to show people that HIV does not define you. You can live a great life. You can accomplish your dreams. I want to teach people how to have a positive life while living with HIV.
When I go out to talk to people, I have to build their trust. Once I tell people that I am living with HIV, it lowers their guard. People open up to me and talk to me. HIV is not pretty and there is so much that goes on with HIV that no one talks about. I talk about these things.
What I want to say to everyone who is living with HIV is this:
You are not alone in this fight.
Sometimes it can feel lonely.
Now, more than ever, everyone wants to help.
They want to be a part of your team without wanting anything back in return.
They want to help you be happy.
It’s time to see each other as humans again.
It’s time to hold each other’s hands and celebrate life.
John Poole is an HIV advocate, writer, and human being living in Houston, TX. John is proud to represent his community as a member of the Texas HIV Syndicate and Achieving Together partners.
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