Ask the Advocate: What Does the HIV Community Mean to You?
Thanks to the activism, strength, and resilience of the HIV/AIDS community, access to life-saving medicines, social services, and various programs exists today. Although there is still more work to be done in improving the overall well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS, we must recognize and celebrate the massive impact this community has had on individual journeys.
So we asked community advocates for H-I-V.net: "What does the HIV community mean to you? How did the community help you cope with a diagnosis?"
How community support helped me cope
"The HIV community means so much to me. It's like a family because we are all dealing with the same virus. It helped me cope by seeing and being around so many people who are thriving with HIV, and it helped me to see that I can thrive as well. It made me stronger in dealing with HIV." - Dee
"This community means everything to me – it is the definition of strength and resilience. In the last 4 years, I have always been able to turn to my friends inside this community. I have been given guidance when I asked for it, given space when I needed it, and was shown compassion when I believed that I was unworthy of it. Following my own diagnosis, I had incredible people give me an unlimited amount of love and kindness. It made me want to give back and to show the same level of strength and support to those going through their own similar experience." - Kalvin
"Community means being there for one another, even when it is hard or inconvenient. It means finding value in one another and having empathy. The community helped me with my diagnosis immensely; it helped normalize what I felt was a very isolating experience and showed me I wasn't alone." - Nicholas
"Having a community of people who share the same lived experience as me makes all the difference in how I navigate living with my HIV diagnosis and all that comes with it. For me, having a community of Black women has saved my life. Seeing that I wasn’t alone, despite what was being depicted in the outdated literature that was available at the time of my initial diagnosis in 2003 and the limited in-person support groups, which were all white, cis-gendered men that were still angry with President Regan, I was still able to rise from the shadows of isolation, guilt, and shame because of the women I was connected to. One woman on Twitter literally saved my life by checking me in a loving way about taking my meds when I said I didn’t want to anymore. We have each others’ backs, and that is priceless. - Kamaria
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?