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
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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24 January 2019
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