I will never forget the day

Published 16, Feb, 2017
Author // Guest Authors - Revolving Door

From Huffington Post, Jesse Milan, President & CEO of AIDS United: "On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day be aware that support of a mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or cousin can be lifesaving."

I will never forget the day

To read the complete article by Jesse Milan, visit Huffington Post, here.

I will never forget the day my mother asked me, “Is there something you want me to know about you?” 

Mom wanted to know if I had HIV.

She had just attended her first HIV educational program. She learned about the virus and how important being in care is to assure a person with HIV remains healthy. She was armed with new knowledge, but she was also my mom. She knew how important it is to support the ones she loves. In that moment I was caught off guard. She was ready. She was opening her mind and her heart for me to share the one thing I feared most to share. Could I do it? Could I finally disclose to her that I have HIV? I did. 

It changed everything.

The support of a mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or cousin can be lifesaving to a person facing HIV. Unfortunately, the drive to know your status, and the crucial need to start and remain in care are all too often blocked by the stigma of HIV. Even today, after nearly 40 years of the epidemic, there remains intense fear that once you know you have HIV your relations with others; especially your own relatives will change. I heard that very story this week from a Black man with two advanced degrees. He was still afraid to tell his own mother he had HIV. HIV stigma in the Black community remains one of the biggest obstacles to knowing your status, getting into and remaining in care, right up there with lack of housing, lack of transportation, and lack of affordable health care. The result of these barriers is fierce.

Today, barely 30 percent of Black people living with HIV are consistently on HIV treatment regimes to achieve a suppressed viral load. Yet achieving viral suppression is the gold standard indicator that you will live a healthy, normal life span. Rural communities in Botswana, Uganda, and Kenya have attained viral suppression rates that are as much as three times higher than African Americans here in the United States. But, only 37% of African Americans with HIV are being prescribed HIV treatment medications, and only 40% are accessing HIV medical care. And despite being only 12% of the U.S. population, Black people account for over 40% of all Americans living with HIV, and nearly half of the 50,000 new infections in our country each year.

How can we urge and support our people to know their status and get and remain in care if we are silent about our support for them? We can start be being aware of what we say and what we do. More importantly, we need to start being aware of what we have not said and what we have not done.

To read the complete article by Jesse Milan, visit Huffington Post, here.

About the Author

Guest Authors - Revolving Door

Guest Authors - Revolving Door

The Revolving Door is the place where we publish occasional articles by guest writers. If you would like to submit an article for publication, please contact editor Bob Leahy at editor@positivelite.com