Close your eyes and picture the color RED. Really, try it for one sec. You may have pictured apple red, or cherry red or Coca-Cola red. Now, if a room full of people were to do this exercise, the perceptions of red would be endless.
Now, another test… think HIV. I know you get where this exercise is going. Individual perceptions about the HIV experience vary like the shades and tints of red. You can be cool magenta in your thoughts, almost complacent, or you can be warm (blood red), seeing the virus as an ever present entity flowing through your veins. You may fear stop-sign red so you remain inactive at every turn or intersection in your life. It can make you angry, so you have the right to “see red”! You can even try to alter the red you see, by learning all you can about HIV to control how the virus will control you.
In many educational circles, whether at an ASO, a HIV conference, symposium, community forum or retreat…we try so hard to capsulate HIV in a standard, systematic way to contain it, observe it and evaluate it - to draw a parallel in the shared PHA experience. What are we thinking? The red ribbon may have a specific pantone, but it in no way reflects the same redness we individually feel. HIV may look the same in a test tube (with variations in strain, geno-types or mutations) but the effect of HIV on infected or affected individuals is as varied as red can be. Anybody out there want to throw a wrench in the color association game…when you think HIV, what color do you see?