By Andrew Goyvaerts
Fear, a common feeling that connects us not just as humans but as simple beings on earth, from cats to our parents it is something we have all felt at one point or another. The only time fear becomes uncommon and unacceptable is when it is unreasonable.
Fear of HIV has been so deeply ingrained in some people that they do not want to believe viral suppression means PLWHIV cannot pass it on.
I experienced this once again today when I was called a liar and told to “shut up or get fucked up” (he did not mean fucked up in a good way). This was in between explicits and being told I am dirty.
Now some people might say it is perfectly rational to fear a virus like HIV, in fact for those born after 1982 it has been considered educational to enlist fear of HIV, those people are correct to a certain degree. While it is a manageable condition I would prefer not to have it just as I would prefer not to have epilepsy or the migraine being nursed at this particular moment but it is irrational to fear those who are living with it irregardless of viral suppression and even more irrational to fear scientific fact that updates education from the 80s to say those who have achieved viral suppression literally cannot pass HIV on to others.
What strikes one as a common denominator with these unbelievers that would lead to the conclusion of their verbal attacks and threats being based on fear is their unwillingness to debate.
When UequalsU first took stage people did not join the conversation saying, your point of view is wrong and I’m going to kick the head off you for having it, they joined the conversation with scientific evidence, laid it out and debated its merits. If someone from the unbelievers wished to do the same it would be more than okay, however this inclination to abuse and threaten is not okay or something anyone deserves to be subject to. Beyond it not being okay, it lacks education, merit and any comment from me further than saying that it does not matter if you are afraid, to verbally attack and threaten someone purely because their factual opinion differs from yours is to be among the most despicable forms of a human being.
A subsequent conversation lead me to think more about something I was already aware of, this is not just happening to me and it does not seem to happen in many other areas of health apart from HIV and sexual reproductive health. Given that, I do not want this post to just become a condemnation of such barbaric acts but instead to become an acknowledgment within our community that even in 2017 the threats are still there because I fear that if we hesitate to acknowledge it we are left more perceptible to such threats and perhaps even action. Also I want any of my fellow advocates to know that I am here for you should such a situation arise to talk or provide support for if any threat is too close to home it can be of great concern to a person and I hate the thought of anyone going through this without the support I am lucky enough to have.
Stay safe all and just remember, we are not the ones who are reduced to threatening physical violence because or opinion lacks educational fact, how empty life must feel for them.