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I am negative, I am positive

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 Categories // Activism, Features and Interviews, Sexual Health, Health, Living with HIV, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

A new campaign called My Status Is Not A Secret seeks to humanize the experience of those affected and infected by HIV while stressing the importance of knowing your status

I am negative, I am positive

My Status Is Not A Secret was born out of a shared desire between the producers Column Five and AIDS/LifeCycle participant Parker Trewin to foster meaningful dialogue and give voice to the diverse stories related to a disease that affects everyone. 

“If people are going to be motivated to get tested and, if needed, get treatment, we need to bring conversations about HIV/AIDS out of the dark and into the light,” Trewin says. After living with HIV for 10 years, Trewin only recently came out to his family as HIV-positive. He adds that, “We can each play a part, which is just one reason for me to finally tell my story—and why my status is no longer a secret.”

This year, Trewin rides in the AIDS/LifeCycle with an ambitious fundraising goal to give back to two organizations that have existed since before HIV had a name: the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.

The campaign features an attractive website  that currently includes nine videos from engaging participants, positive and negative, talking about their status and how they know it. Featured in particular is Trewin who says “Thirty–plus years into the epidemic, stigma still exists for people living with HIV. A lack of shared understanding of HIV contributes to alarming and sometimes insidious expressions of ignorance. Amidst the misinformation, jokes, and labeling, we also diminish our own humanity. When this kind of thinking abounds, it’s understandable why some choose to remain enigmatic. For many, it’s just more comfortable to live with plausible deniability. Yet, the repercussions amount to a major health concern. Today, 20% of people with HIV in the U.S. don’t even know they have it. Their status is a secret even unto themselves.”

Of his diagnosis Trewin says " . . at 7:15pm, on January 8th, 2004, I found out that I am HIV positive. When the social worker asked if I had any questions, I responded “You betcha!,” “What the f?” “How?” And finally, “Now what?” Without a plan, I just moved forward. The next day, I packed up the Saab and headed south, keeping a trip to see friends in LA. It was the longest, loneliest 7-hour trip of my life. At the end of the journey, I felt the warm embrace of friends new and old, and my loneliness dissipated into the miles that were reflected in my rearview mirror." 

Watch two of the campaign videos below.