Stop AIDS stigma, help save a life

Combat AIDS stigma and support your HIV-positive friends by wearing (or sharing) this shirt that proclaims “no shame about being HIV+” — you know, the same way people shave their heads bald to support those living with cancer. I dare you. Go ahead, make my day. Seriously! 

No Shame About Being HIV+ is a campaign organized by Kevin Maloney of RiseUpToHIV as a way to break down the wall of silence and shame surrounding HIV/AIDS. According to the campaign’s Booster page:

“The overarching goal of this campaign has been to help end the stigma of this disease. A stigma so powerful that it kills. Because of this stigma many do not get tested for HIV or they don’t take their medications. They don’t talk about it. They wind up in the hospital near death or simply just die in silence. We must keep the conversation going and with your help, we can do just that.”

AIDS doesn’t have to be a deadly disease, thanks to advances in medicine; but the continued stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS serves as a counterweight to those advances, and the results take their toll on society as a whole.

HIV/AIDS infection rates are rising, not falling, and the disease remains a major cause of death for people of low means and people of color.

You’d think that collectively surviving the original AIDS Panic coupled with the unprecedented advances made by science would make the 21st century a dream come true for those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

AIDS stigma: within and without

AIDS stigma is everywhere, including the gay community. The online gay dating world is full of gays warning other gays, “Stay away from me, if you’re not bug-free,” or other cruel words and phrases to that effect.

So when I see Kevin Maloney’s t-shirt declaring there’s no shame in being HIV-positive, I think to myself: heavens, yes! HIV negative people, put up or shut up. Don’t shave your head and don’t stigmatize me. Just wear this t-shirt and maintain this mindset.