It’s a simple choice for me, I stand up for what I believe in and I’m one of those people who want to get involved in causes that represent my life and who I am as a person, that doesn’t mean I have to become the issues, I’m still me.
I can’t stand apathy, I hate people who don’t believe in activism or standing up for rights because they don’t think a certain issue affects them, or for the belief that they can rise above prejudice on their own. We’re not where we are today because people sat at home in quiet, silent protest. You have to, you need to, get up and out and SHOUT!
Whilst I was studying I got involved in a lot of different groups and associations, probably too many, but it was something I felt that I had a duty to do. There are plenty of people throughout the world who don’t have these opportunities open to them. They live in countries where to be gay or lesbian is still illegal, where ‘Pride’ is banned or where violent crime against groups in society is still common and largely ignored by the law. With HIV it’s different; it’s not just a duty because I’m in a better position to be able to be open about my status and campaign for change. By being an activist fighting for HIV causes you can save lives.
HIV thrives on ignorance. People still believe (and many are still under that impression) it’s a disease that only infects gay men. HIV loves fear; if you’re afraid to get tested then the virus has a better chance of spreading, through sexual encounters, mother to unborn child or from addicts sharing needles. HIV breeds stigma: people will judge and look down on people living with HIV, and this should not be tolerated. The ignorance, the fear, the stigma - they all intertwine and allow the virus to multiply with ease.
So it’s not enough to sit down and think, "this doesn’t affect me" or "I’m over it." HIV isn’t over, and until it is there’s a job to be getting on with.
This article originally appeared in May 2013 on Alex’ own blog HIV and Me here.