Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twenty Five Years of the HIV Test

25 years ago today, on 23rd April 1984, the US Health Secretary, Margaret Heckler, announced the ground breaking discovery that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Ms Heckler also announced on that same day that a blood test had been developed that would prevent infected individuals unwittingly passing on the virus through blood transfusions.

Pink News 30 July 2009

What is wrong in the UK is the amount of stigma directed at HIV+ people by other gay people, and even by other people with HIV.

Well I am HIV+, my family knows, all my friends know, and so do most of my neighbours (and I live on a [very nice] council estate in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester).

I don't think scaring people will work. People just don't died of HIV in a few years. I can tell people, though, that even with a zero viral load, the meds can wear you down, and after many years you just feel so damned tired. (And let's not even mention the bowel problems).

But as long as this stigma remains people will refuse to get tested because they don't want to be a member of a stigmatised group. When such people do get tested, they often seem to hate themselves, and either refuse to tell partners or go into a kind of "shock" and withdraw from the world.

We need a balanced approach. HIV is not the immediate death sentence it once seemed, but it's still something you don't want to have. Until we limit stigma, there is no campaign that will be successful.

I, at least, hope to contribute, by being quite open about it.

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