Advocacy: The Work That Never Ends
Most advocates know that our work isn’t done until the epidemic has ended. That’s something we all learn the more we advocate.
But let's take a step back, back from the big picture, and into our day-to-day. I, of course, cannot and do not speak for all advocates - I just know my feelings on this matter. I just feel like sometimes, my work truly never ends. It’s everywhere I go, and in everything I do.
HIV advocacy doesn't stop
I hold a career in public health in the field of HIV. We are all working together for a common goal and I am proud to be a part of that mission. However, even at work, in my own way, I am still an advocate.
Every day I am on the lookout for outdated language and information, no matter the source. My ears have become very sensitive to stigmatizing language and I cannot help but make mention of it. Because in my mind, if I don’t, I’m doing a disservice as an advocate.
Dispelling HIV misinformation
When I leave work and come home, I usually try to relax. So I end up doing the least relaxing thing and log into social media.
Eventually, I will reach a post of someone that has been misinformed and is spreading bad information. I make a point to stop, try to correct the information, offer a link for more information on HIV and hope I educated someone. Because in my mind, if I don’t, I’m doing a disservice as an advocate.
Raising HIV awareness
I had considerations of streaming video games for fun and to make some extra money. Guess what my great idea was for a hook? A streamer that plays videogames while offering HIV education and other important sexual education. This was the biggest thing I felt I could offer the gaming community - using yet another platform to raise HIV awareness. Because in my mind, if I don’t, I’m doing a disservice as an advocate.
HIV education in conversation
When I meet someone new, I usually work something about HIV into the conversation at some point.
I am always curious about what kind of knowledge people I meet have about HIV. Like I previously mentioned, there is a lot of misinformation about HIV. Also because HIV is such a big part of my life that I find myself needing to talk about it. Because in my mind, if I don’t, I’m doing a disservice as an advocate.
I am not my HIV status
At the end of the day, I find that from start to finish, I am working as an advocate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my work. I have a wealth of knowledge on HIV and the ability to make an impact. It has become a very important part of who I am, and the legacy I will leave behind.
But there is one very important thing I always try to remember: I am not my status. I am a person first, living with HIV second. I do my best to never forget that. Because in my mind, if I don’t, I’m doing a disservice as an advocate.
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?