a diverse group of people wearing t shirts that read "GET TESTED"

Sometimes I Want

I speak, sleep, and wake up with advocacy on my mind. Is that a terrible thing? Some think it is, but I don’t feel that it is. What I do know is that I LOVE what I do, and it makes me feel so good. Why? Because I know that I am helping others out of their darkness, I am inspiring people and motivating them to do more and change their lives.

But sometimes I want to walk around with a shirt every day for thirty days that says GET TESTED with a few exclamation marks at the end. A different color shirt each day. It becomes frustrating that people just don’t get it, and there are some that do, and they don’t care at all.

Accountability

When we say you are responsible for your own sexual health, we mean it literally! I would not be living with HIV today if I knew then what I know now, and I placed no blame or resentment on anyone.

Sometimes I want to walk around and scream in the ears of those who keep placing blame. A single person cannot be held responsible (unless there are other circumstances). I call accountability a word that many cannot grasp or wrap their minds around, and once you do that, all the resentment goes away, and you can move past the blame game and live your life.

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Reaching someone

Even if we reach one or two individuals, we are doing our job as HIV educators in advocating. Nevertheless, there are certain people who challenge our efforts to normalize HIV. Sometimes I want to ask why are you still holding on to the day you received that positive result and why won’t you let it go.

But I get it, I truly do; it’s harder for some to let go of the anger and the why. For some people, it’s harder not to let go of the stigma, and self-stigma, that consumes them. I sometimes want to shake them and say please live your life, find confidence within yourself to speak your truth for yourself and not for everyone else.

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Hugging off the stigma

A mirror is a valuable tool for sharing words as you look at yourself. Saying I am loved, beautiful and amazing, that it doesn’t matter what others say. Sometimes I want to just hug everyone who hurts, cries, and feels pain because they found out that they are living with HIV, and tell them it’s going to be simply fine.

But no matter what I say I have realized it won’t do any good until they are ready to be comfortable with who they are. No matter if I scream, shake them, or hug them, it will only last at that moment. All I can do is continue to educate as hard as I can to help those who want to be helped.

I pray for all those who struggle with living with HIV, and self-stigma, and I wish I could take away all their sadness because I remember I was once in the same place.

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