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COMMENTARY: Fight the stigma of HIV to help get to zero

As the world came together to acknowledge Word AIDS Day on Dec.1, I was left feeling out of place and out of mind. The official theme of World AIDS Day was “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.”

I reflected on this the other day when I noticed a red mark on my chest. Instantly I thought it was a lesion; a sign I was sick and likely to die. No I’m no hypochondriac, but I am HIV positive. When I was first diagnosed, I thought of Tom Hanks’ face as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film “Philadelphia.”

Kaposi’s sarcoma, that’s what those red looking blisters are you see in movies and documentaries about people with AIDS. Of course that’s not what was on my chest, but the specter of the once-called Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) lives with us to this day.

The typical discourse of World AIDS Day revolves around three prevalent images of HIV and AIDS. We remember the dead who lost their lives before there was a cure, we see the elderly in need of charity, and we see community figures encouraging HIV testing and safer sex.

Read the full story in Gay San Diego, a SDGLN media partner, HERE.