While in Montreal I was privy to survey results prior to their official release yesterday. There were few things in it that struck me, especially in the context of anyone claiming “stigma” does not exist. It’s kind of a reverse of “I think, therefore I am” to “I do not see, therefore it does not exist.”
Great for a title of some sort of metaphysical book sold in a new age shop, but doesn’t help much when looking at the broad macro experiences of living with HIV.
The title of the document is:
HIV+25 SURVEY ASKS WHERE ARE WE IN CANADA TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER DISCOVERY OF THE VIRUS
Five Canadian AIDS service organizations (CAS, ACCM, AIDS Committee of Toronto, COQ-SIDA ) with the support of Merck Frost Canada to look at stigma and HIV twenty-five years into this epidemic.
The survey was conducted national wide last summer 2008 by an independent research firm. They had 391 people living with HIV fill out a questionnaire to check in on various experiences.
Out of this national pool (and this isn’t meant to be scientific research, but you cannot argue with people’s experiences) 82%, yes all you “oh people don’t experience stigma” take a look at that. A very large majority felt they continue to combat as the press release says, “huge stigma.”
In addition, over half (55%) feel depressed, and 45% felt there were isolated as a result of living with HIV.
I won’t get into the treatment related aspects of the survey. As I am always happy of hearing about those who have been able to carve out a way to live with HIV in a way that hasn’t brought about any rejection or negativity, this is not the experience of the majority.
It’s time we wake up as a community as stop caring about how fast we can get juiced and buffed up for the next big party, how many guys are cruising us, are turning heads, how much attention am I getting, how much sex I can get, and start trying each other with a bit more humanity. (ok that was my Larry Kramer moment)
It no wonder guys don’t feel like disclosing.
Oh by the way, I’m doing my annual “She’s still here” Tour on Proud FM with my friend Shaun Proux. It’s a tradition that started last year with a story far too long to go into here.