At the recent World AIDS conference in Washington DC, Elton John took to the stage and called on people with HIV around the world to step up and publicly disclose their status. On the face of it, this makes perfect sense. The more people who talk publicly about the realities of living with HIV, the more misconceptions are banished and the less stigma surrounds it.
The problem is that in order to reverse them, you have to be prepared to take on these misconceptions and stigmas in the first place. And to do this in a public arena takes guts. It also helps if you’ve already come out to everyone around you friends, family, workmates and have their support. Not all positive people have these things.
But fortunately, the recently self-outed Olympian, Ji Wallace, does. (Plus he can turn somersaults in mid-air … sigh).
Ji has said he is determined to show people that HIV is still here and that it’s not okay to be complacent. He also wants to get across “that it is a disease where you can live a very healthy, very normal and functioning life”.
Good on you, Ji. You’re just what we need. In fact, we all need a bit more of what you’ve got. One thing is for sure, positive people know about resilience… particularly those who lived through the horror years of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Just getting through that period when many of our friends were dying and society was reacting with fear and hostility took a lot of resilience.
But even today, with much better prognoses, a HIV diagnosis is still a big deal. There’s the initial shock, followed by wondering how you will be treated and what it all means for your health. Some people find it easier to adjust, while others battling those feelings of stigma, the fear of rejection and uncertainty about the future, find it extremely hard.
In the spring edition of Positive Living, we talk about resilience and how we can achieve it.
We also look at cognitive behaviour therapy for dealing with anxiety and depression.
Plus, we give you the definitive, no-holds-barred guide on why treatment is good for you.
And are we any closer to a cure? Three recent breakthroughs suggest we may be moving there.
Positive Living is out in the Star Observer this week.
Adrian Ogier is the editor of Positive Living magazine.