Living well with HIV – The Greater Good

Previously I have written about the need to reduce the stigma around HIV, about the need to let go of old irrational fears of how HIV is transmitted like the myths about transmission via mosquitoes, and deep kissing (both very untrue by the way).

I find it increasingly difficult to advocate for a reduction in HIV stigma without advocating for a reduction in stigma of mental health, sex workers, substance users, older people, younger people, people from different cultures and race, people living in the outer suburbs, people living in the inner suburbs, people couch surfing or homeless, people with high income, people with low income, people with no income, people with style, people who are clones, people who are attractive, people not as attractive, people who are tall, people who are short, guys with a big appendage, guys with small appendages etc …… the point is we can all be marginalised and stigmatized.

This experience is shared, we all know what this feels like and the hurt it causes.

So what could be the benefits of reduced stigma to HIV? People would become visible about living with HIV, and in doing so increase our understanding of the illness and its real impact on day to day living.

People with HIV could feel supported by the broader community and in return the broader community could feel good about how it treats others with HIV. Reducing stigma around HIV helps reduce stigma in other areas, in particular other STI’s.

As we practice being non-judgmental, we encourage a culture of a caring community increasing each others sense of connection there by making life more meaningful and worthwhile. More people who have been at risk of HIV would get tested and treated, which could potentially reduce the incidence of HIV, which would bring a reduction to the cost of the health service, saving tax dollars.

As a community we become a beacon for enlightenment and compassion that is then followed by other communities world wide. It is the greater good.
It’s not about living in fantasy or trying to create a utopian world, but it is about encouraging each other to be as accepting and non judgmental as possible.

The less we judge each other, the less likely we judge ourselves and potentially the more at peace we are with ourselves and others. When was the last time you attended a rally, or participated in a community group, or made someone excluded feel included? If we want stronger more resilient communities then we must believe in and stand up for each others greater good.

Cipri Martinez