Thursday, August 30, 2012

HIV Facts...Educate yourself!

Some of you may know that I am working with the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Trying to raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS within the community and trying to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions that surround the disease by working on a play to be performed on World's AIDS Day.

And here are some of the more interesting facts that you should be aware of:

1. HIV/AIDS is not a discerner of persons.  Meaning it doesn't give a shit who you are! You could be rich, famous, poor, unknown, male, female, straight, gay, green, purple or blue. It just doesn't care.
2. You do not have to promiscuous to get it. That's right folks, it is possible to get it the first time out.  Remember even if you haven't been sexually active it doesn't mean your partner hasn't. You are sleeping not only with them, but everyone they have ever been with.
3.  3 out of 5 people walking around today are infected and don't even know it.  Get Tested Often. You owe it to yourself and to your partners
4. You can be infected and never have a symptom or feel sick.  Know your Status!
5. Condoms are only 95% effective in stopping the disease.  Be smart about who you sleep with!
6. Be aware that there are people out there that are looking to get infected.  Bug-Chasers, they are under the misconception that after you get it, you can sleep with whomever, without caution.
7. Bareback is dangerous. If both people are Positive, they can still re-infect each other with different strains and create a super strain that is drug resistant.  Understand the risks you take.
8. Positive and Negative couples cannot survive.  Wrong educate yourselves, know your limitations, and what can be done safely.  You can have a terribly effective relationship if your are honest and know what to expect.
9. HIV/AIDS cannot be spread by causal contact. Hugs, sharing drinking glass, eating off a persons fork, using the toilet after. HIV is a fragile virus that dies when exposed to air, soap and water and bleach.
10. HIV/AIDS cannot be spread by kissing or through saliva, you would have to drink over a gallon and have some kind of ulcer or soar in the mouth. Saliva's acidity kills the virus.
11. HIV/AIDS doesn't have the ability or the strength to penetrate the outer layer of the body. In other words, unless it finds an open wound or other way passed the epidermis, it cannot get inside of you.
12. HIV/AIDS is an epidemic and affects you whether you are aware of it or not.  It affects those around you, the health care system, the pharmaceutical structure and a myriad of other things. People you love and who love you may be ill.  There is no gulf, anyone you meet or contact may be positive.
13. Remember, you cannot necessarily tell that a person is ill by looking at them. They may have no symptoms.
14. Just because you have been diagnosed with HIV doesn't necessarily mean you are going to die.  There are new drugs on the market with more being released all the time that can allow you to live a relatively normal life for 30 years or more now.
15. Undetectable does not mean you are not contagious! You still have the disease at the lowest possible numbers in your blood, but it is still present and can be spread!
16. HIV doesn't mean you have AIDS. Converting to Full AIDS is a process, t-cells must be below 200.  Remember it could take an untreated HIV infection 8 to 10 years to become AIDS.
17. It is the fear of ridicule, the shame and guilt that keep us from revealing our status.  There are others like you, who are going through what you have.  We will be your friends and family if other's abandon you. You don't ever have to feel alone!
18.  Is there ever a good time to tell your partner or potential partner you're status? No, you must make the effort, make a moment, be responsible.
19. Rejection hurts, yes it does, but you must be fair and honest with your feelings and status to have a successful union.  The other person deserves the right to make the choice! Be understanding. Hope for the best but plan for the worst is my motto.

There are so many more of these that I could write about, but I think you get the picture I am trying to paint.  As I said at the beginning of this entry, I am working on a play.  This play is about these things and so much more.  I have tentatively entitled it "You Just Never Know", it is my dream and goal that once it is performed the first time. That I will be able to publish it, and it will be a program that is put on everywhere to raise awareness and understanding, to quell some of the myths and misconceptions.  It will inspire hope, calm the fears, ease the guilt and shame, and finally to put a face on the disease.  I want you to identify with the characters, feel the angst and trepidation that they face, their isolation, their fear of discovery, and the persecution that follows by family, friends, co-workers and how hard it is to truly find an accepting and loving partner.  No one ever truly wants to be alone, I believe we are all social creatures, we need to feel love, we deserve it.  We are still human after all.  I want you to love me, hate the disease I have, remember that I am still the same person, I have just had a bad turn.

There are haters out there that once your down, are more than happy to keep kicking holding you and down.  They fear you, they don't understand, the are ignorant of the facts.  Please understand that you can face them and over come their comments, their pettiness and you deserve, and demand to be treated with dignity and respect.  Keep in mind that if we say nothing, do nothing, we are propagating the paranoia, the myths, the misconceptions, we are turning our backs on each other.  We are only as strong as our weakest link. Even in the gay community we are outsiders and outcasts, if we do not come together, build our own network, our own advocacy groups, and raise our voices in a chorus of one.  We will never truly be accepted, the demands of a cure will never be forced.  United we are that much more powerful, our voices can and will be heard.  We will not stand to be put on the back burner, we will not let our unfortunate encounter with this disease silence us and put us back in the closet, or hide us in the shadows.  We are the past, We are the Future, We are the Hope and We are no longer going to be quite victims.  And You know why? Because you can only be a victim if you allow it.  You  are a champion and you are not ever truly alone. You have strength, courage, and a life to live. So live it to the fullest, acknowledge your limitations, and move into the light!  Remember that  EVIL lurks in darkness, plays in shadows and causes mischief. LOVE lives in the light, dispels the shadows and brings forgiveness. 

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B