a woman is made of diamonds as she breaks through rough rock because she has self-acceptance living with HIV

Changing the Narrative

Many think that it's wrong for me to state that I want to change the narrative surrounding HIV. That's how they see it, but I see it differently.

Surely, we are capable of changing the way anything in this world is perceived. We can turn a negative subject into a positive one so we can change the views of a society that views it negatively.

Having the ability to talk about our journeys can totally change someone's life but changing a narrative in their perspective is so much greater than a journey. The impact that HIV has had on so many lives over the past 40 years, is more than how others see it.

And people have taken HIV and accepted everything they have heard about it without educating themselves on the matter. The vast majority of people who are HIV-negative will not understand how I feel because they have never been through what I have been through.


When I wake up every day, the first thing I see is me, Dee, Davina, a Black woman who has finally accepted who she is on the inside and out. HIV is not something I see.

As a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, and a friend I see everything she stands for.

Neither do I see someone plagued with disease, infected, or dying, nor do I see someone who should be ashamed of living with a virus they did not ask for. Did I have a part in contracting HIV? I did because I have never been tested, have never asked my partner for testing, and have never used condoms.

Being accountable changes your perspective on things as you move forward in life. It doesn't matter what others think or say because I know who I am, and I know that HIV has evolved over the years, we can't keep throwing the stigma around HIV because that will not change the narrative.

How to change others' views?

Wouldn't it be nice if the world changed how Black people are viewed? We want the narrative on mass incarceration to change, and we also want the world to change on many other issues. And I use this because Black people have the highest rate of HIV diagnosis.1

True, HIV has caused the death of many, but we must shift the narrative of how HIV is looked at and show that it isn't a death sentence.

We are not in the 1980s anymore, we have children that are HIV-negative, we're in healthy relationships without passing it on to our partners (U=U), and we're doing better health-wise than others.

Being part of the change

There will never be a change in the narrative if when you continue to preserve stigma because of your views, then you are the problem.

HIV in a negative light is society's reality and not mine because I live this reality and have been living it for over 2 decades.

I will inspire myself and others to see the positive light of how HIV has changed. To me, that is what it means to change the narrative of HIV.

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