This post is made possible by support from the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. All opinions are my own.
One of my favorite things about working in social media is that I get to inform others about valuable campaigns that are taking place in their community, so they can benefit from them.
A perfect example of this is from the Center for Disease Control, Stop HIV Together community outreach event, which took place in Miami. Everyone was invited to get tested for HIV no questions asked and results where given to them on the spot. I really liked the impact this initiative had, as in just a few hours about one hundred people knew their health status. Testing is the only way to know if you are HIV positive but many people avoid testing because of stigma. Knowing your status may empower you to talk openly about what it’s like to get tested and encourage others to do the same. For more information about testing and to find a testing site near you, visit www.CDC.gov/DoingIt
The main focus for CDC is to help decrease the stigma associated with HIV. Because stigma leads to marginalization of those that are positive, decreased testing due to the fear of a positive diagnosis, fear of disclosing status and getting treatment, and fewer conversations about safe sex.
Ongoing stigma in our communities leads to perceived discrimination, fear and anxiety. It affects the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV and prevents some from getting testes and treated for HIV.
Conversations don’t have to be face to face. You can have a big impact by talking about HIV virtually through social media. Whether you blog, tweet, or snap please make sure that your message is speaking out against stigma for example: Don’t use exclamation marks in some context for it may fuel stigma, discrimination, fear and anxiety. Tune in and listen to what others are saying so you may correct myths about HIV by sharing the facts. Avoid words or phrases that promote stigma and misinformation. Here are some preferred terms available in the Let’s Stop HIV Together guide to talking about HIV. http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/campaigns/starttalking/convo.html
Personally I think that there is nothing wrong with saving ourselves until we get married, besides it is the most effective way to avoid the spread of HIV. However, if you choose to have sex then you must learn how to practice safe sex by wearing a latex condom each and every time.