When I first watched this short film below, I was extremely touched by it. I don’t think that even if one works with HIV-positive persons that one would understand what it feels like to live a day in their shoes. The short film is appropriately called Life in My Shoes and portrays what its like to have a HIV diagnosis leaked to nonsupporting individuals. Please watch the short film to see what I mean:
Recently I also wrote a post on how HIV disclosure in a classroom in Kenya went very well and the child was widely accepted by his peers in school. The post can be found here and the video is below:
These two disclosures went completely differently albeit the location and ages of the children were also very different. I am an advocate for HIV disclosure whenever it is done appropriately with adequate preparation and the benefits outweigh the risks. In the short film, HIV disclosure was not properly done, and the audience who received disclosure were least prepared for it, and it seems uneducated about the illness. Human behavior at its worst was displayed to a HIV-positive person who until that point had been a close trusted friend. Nothing else changed other than her illness was revealed in the worst possible way! I still want to believe that HIV disclosure in schools can go smoothly as in the second video and that we as human beings can be accepting of others who have an illness that poses no direct threat to us. However, given the two different scenarios presented here, the question still remains, should HIV be disclosed appropriately or otherwise within schools or not?
A friend who knows of my interest in HIV disclosure recently told me that they had an office party in which a HIV-positive coworker brought in some food that no one would eat apart from her. Like really cooked food? Brought out of the kindness of his heart? Put yourself in his shoes, how did he feel to see not only his food but inadvertently himself rejected? I couldnt help but empathize even though I dont know him. And this was an office party among healthcare workers who should be educated about the illness! For someone to be courageous enough to disclose his illness and then offer food and still be rejected shows how deep stigma still is.
When we disclose others’ illnesses (and it is not our place to do that without their consent) or stigmatize them when they have the courage to come forth and educate us about the illness, are we even going to overcome the stigma accompanying this illness? HIV stigma causes a HIV-positive person to hide his or her illness and some do not seek treatment, meanwhile the illness continues to spread. I just hope that those who look down upon HIV-positive persons do not end up being the ones who are looked down upon in the future……
Please read my other posts on HIV stigma:
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