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234 | December 2018/January 2019 | Page updated 23 November 2018      

  
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HIV Today. A Young Person's View

Growing up, I never really knew anything about HIV. Nothing was said in schools or by family members. My parents grew up in the 80s, so whenever they talked about HIV, it was always with a heavily negative image. I can remember these words being said to me: ďHIV is a disease only homosexual men can getĒ and this didnít help being in an environment, where homosexuality and being different in general, was heavily frowned upon- even though it was in the era of 2000s.

Due to the lack of information regarding HIV, the only place I could learn anything was from the internet - which has its pros and cons. I saw adverts online, and I even saw TV adverts that were shown in the 80s. I can understand why the general public were frightened. The adverts were very fear inducing, as in that era, HIV was a death sentence. The use of language, the big and bold lettering looked frightful! I donít know how people living with HIV must of felt when seeing these adverts. I imagine a lot of people were living in fear of HIV. I remember when I was younger being confused by the information regarding HIV on medical sites, as I couldnít really understand at the time, and wished there was information about HIV for teenagers.

I have a cousin, who is openly gay. He came out when I was around eleven years of age and, if I am going to be highly honest, I was wary being around him as I believed that, if he was gay, he must have HIV (which he doesnít). I was wary of accidently touching him if I walked past him, thinking I could contract HIV. I wondered how anyone else in the room could be comfortable; as I was convinced he had HIV. I never spoke to my parents or anyone else in the family, in fear that it would be reported back to him, and it would cause a family uproar, which was normal in my family. I didnít want the burden of causing more hostility.

Obviously, I donít think like this now, but I feel so stupid and ignorant for ever thinking like that. If only someone had had a conversation with me, I would have never had to feel that way. But, if people I knew around me didnít have an idea, how could I expect them to cure my ignorant mind regarding HIV?

There is still a stigma attached to people with HIV, and I think younger homosexual and bisexual men in particular would still be ashamed if they were to contract HIV, as their parents may still have the same mind-set about HIV, from seeing those adverts when they were younger. The horror that if anyone found out that they had HIV- they may feel their life was over. We know this is not the case, as there is now medication to help control HIV from progressing ever further, but there is still a cloud of judgement surrounding many people who open out. You can see that some people still have this mind-set, as their body language gives it away when they are being told that they know someone with HIV. In my experience, I have seen people roll their eyes, or put their heads down and shake their head in disappointment. This would probably cause some more guilt, if they could see these peopleís reactions.

The younger generation are not really taught about HIV, so in sex education classes, which are compulsory from 2019, I really hope that young people are informed, and will help de-stigmatise HIV. This will give the younger generation not just a rounded view of sexual health, but to understand what you can do, if you were to contract HIV. Know that there is support and it is not a death sentence anymore. You can carry on and have an extraordinary life!

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Deadline 234

24 January 2019


Deadline 2018


Editorial Contact

Chris Flewitt


Cheshire Cheese

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Email info@cheshirecheese.org.uk


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