How has your race/ethnicity informed your experience with living with HIV?

Joshua's Answer

Race absolutely has played a significant role in my experiences with HIV.  Although HIV disproportionately affects communities of color, these same communities can make living with HIV seem impossible. The stigma surrounding this completely preventable virus is, more often than not, perpetuated and exacerbated by the communities that it impacts the most. When we consider advocacy, we rarely see or hear from people of color, and much of the fight has been charged by those who neither look like or accurately represent us. Capturing the experiences of individuals of color living with HIV, is eclipsed by the white HIV experience; through social media, popular culture, and advertising. HIV or LGBTQ specific media sources have generally remained partial to catering to and representing those that are already accessing these resources, rather than strategizing to penetrate the hardest afflicted and hardest to reach populations. Agencies that provide prevention services use our communities as an example, yet their administration and staff generally looks completely opposite of highly impoverished and high risk communities. They receive funds to administer services in our community, but do little to be accessible; operating 9-5 and within areas that cultivate great opportunities to appear socially visible, yet beyond the reach of those who need it the most. They will use our likeness and even our experiences to advance their own propaganda; using us to fill the gap, while not allowing us to reach the levels that will enable us to truly reach our community and evoke the urgency required to create transformative power. The HIV Stops With Me Campaign does an amazing job at representing and reaching the communities of color, without exploitation or stereotypes. We are real people, from varying backgrounds, degrees of professional capacity, and real life experiences. This platform provides the community, especially those of color, with the opportunity to see and connect with individuals who are affected by the same type of adversity. As much as we would like to think that people, especially ourselves, are culturally sound; unless you have had to endure the struggle, your worldview may be more limited than you realize.  


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