I’m off to Oshawa tomorrow for a conference for people living with HIV. I’m talking to them about what we attendees gleaned from the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City earlier this year. In particular, lots of stuff on viral load and what being undetectable means to poz guys. And lots of stuff too on whether treating us early on, in order to reduce our viral load - perhaps on diagnosis even - is an acceptable prevention strategy. (I have real concerns about that, how about you?)
But Mexico City also addressed HIV stigma head on. Clearly it’s a universal problem. Here’s a photo I took of a huge march there addressing it:
The march was thousands strong. Would we ever get that number here? Certainly in Mexico, the commitment to tackling HIV stigma was strong. They seem to get it. Even the Mexican president spoke up against stigma. Haven’t heard a word from Stephen Harper on the topic yet - sounds like a “when hell freezes over” kind of thing to me.
Anyway, Brian from this site also took part in the march. Somewhere on the internet there’s a picture of him bare-chested doing so. Perhaps if we ask him nicely he’ll share that here?
Anyway, following the Oshawa gig I have almost two days of meetings in Toronto about poz prevention. Later, since I’m in the big city, I’ll be hitting Church Street with my partner for Halloween. Not in costume, as it happens, but feel free to say hi. Or boo. Or whatever people say on Halloween these days. (Can you tell we don’t get out much?)
So I’ll be offline until the weekend. In the meantime, here’s another little example of how folks around the world tackle stigma, proving I think that we can address difficult topics in fun - and funny - ways. Because dancing condoms are funny, at least in my book. And that’s just the start:
I’m not sure whether “Never forget me, I am Nirodh, I am the condom friend ever useful to you” would cut it as a slogan here in Ontario. But it’s clear our Indian colleagues are working very hard to overcome the stigma associated with condoms in that county. Any folks from the local Asian community want to chip in and comment on that?
And if (what’s wrong with you?) you don’t like the Indian condom ad, here’s one I’m guessing will appeal to every gay guy in town. True, it has nothing at all to do with HIV, but it DOES have A LOT to do with the assumptions we make. May not be safe for work! Enjoy.