Silent No More: The Perspective of Heterosexual Men Living with HIV
by Temitope Creppy, Senior, Howard University
“I was refused treatment because I refused to say I was homosexual.” These are the words of a 50-year-old African-American man diagnosed with HIV who was wrongly discriminated against and denied medical treatment due to stigma that persists in the healthcare environment. Healthcare professionals doubted his relationship with his wife, and people in his daily life still consider him homosexual because he lives with HIV. Unfortunately, across the country this is the reality of a majority of heterosexual men who live with HIV and experience stigma on a day-to-day basis. A Howard University workgroup named Positive EntreEmpowerment Heterosexual Men’s Workgroup and their associated Straight and Positive support group, support heterosexual men living with HIV and combating the stigma they face on a day-to-day basis. The workgroup consists of primarily men from around the country, largely from Cleveland, Ohio, Texas, and Florida ranging from those who have been living with HIV for several decades to recently diagnosed individuals. The group is inclusive of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.
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Stigma is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: a set of negative and unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something. In the more than four decades of the HIV Pandemic, the medical, scientific and communities most impacted by HIV have made incredible strides; moving us from what was once death sentence, to now a manageable chronic condition. That progress has been unequal across race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and geographic location due to several factors but one of the primary culprits remains from the earliest days of the HIV pandemic, HIV-related stigma.
We welcome your paintings, drawings, poetry, video, photos, essays, and any other art forms. At least three top selections will receive prizes. CLICK HERE to submit. Deadline October 13, 2023.
We are excited to announce that our program to fight stigma for youth age 18 to 29 years with HIV, “StoryTIME” is still open for new enrollments! Mentorship and leadership and advocacy skills training included. Want to learn more? CLICK HERE
Since becoming public with my HIV status just this last fall, I find myself in a place of discovery. What does my life look like without keeping HIV a secret? How does the vulnerability uncovered become an asset to my gifts sharing in a world in much need of safe vulnerability? How do I extend to others while not lessening self care of less stimulation and information from social media? Aging with HIV- what is the best support for my own mental health?
I am grateful to Howard University, Who Can You tell? program, The Well Wisdom Project, Positive Women’s Network and more recently NAMI, “National Association for Mental Illness. These organizations provide inspiring Peer Support. Peer Support utilizes one’s life experiences as a gift to listen and share with others hopes, dreams, loss, disappointment and despair. Living with HIV for 20 years, I’ve done “therapy” many years of my life, and the exchange of Peer Support has been remarkable. Peer Support is an exchange between peers with similar lived experience. These “undesirable” experiences strengthen personal resilience to be an ally for others that are experiencing difficulty. I don’t have to have the exact experience of another to have common feelings of separateness, despair, not being enough, or without community. Peer Support holds space for another’s challenges, sees them as a worthy human being, and knows they have capacity to live life with joys and grief, and that there is hope in living a more joyful life.
CLICK HERE to view the 2022 International Conference on Stigma Photonarrative Project. This project was organized by the Internalized Stigma Interest Group. A big thank you to all who participated!
Join us at Howard University (or virtually) on May 19, 2023 as we explore stigma, relationships, and reproductive issues, while living with sickle cell disease. Register at www.ranapediatricfund.org
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