01 December 2011

If I were…and I am!

If you haven't yet seen the new edition of this anti-stigma campaign from COCQ-SIDA — based on a campaign created by AIDES in France and taken up in multiple countries since — then you really ought to give it a look. It will help if you understand French, but you would still be able to make your own message in the language of your choice through the Facebook application.

There are very few occasions where one's serostatus really ought to matter, and very many situations in which others make it the issue. That's what this campaign is about. It's about reflecting on those impulses we have to pull back from something, looking deeper to see whether they really make sense. They mostly don't, but this is the stuff of stigma that makes it hard for us all to have open discussions about HIV, further feeding the stigma and the epidemic.

Being somewhat "officially" positive, I had a challenge to come up with a phrase that would work for me. Last year, I asked if I would have the support of my friends and family if I were seropositive, adding in a Facebook photo caption that the response for me, luckily, is yes.

This year, I wanted to smile, so I asked if you would still appreciate my sense of humour if I were seropositive. Still having to provide the answer in order to fit with my actual status, my photo caption this time around is "I hope so, because otherwise the joke's on you!"

This campaign makes me reflect on how lucky I have been with my own experience of HIV. I've had three supportive work environments since my diagnosis. I had no hesitation at telling my family about my diagnosis, having already tested them with my coming out and finding them fabulous! I have a solid circle of friends and a health care system that provides me with everything I need to survive and thrive.

I only wish that everyone, in our society and elsewhere in the world, could have the advantages that I have come to take for granted.

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