Category Archives: Stigma

Ways That Help Me To Be Free From My Inner Enemy

confidence-wordsI battle with low self-esteem because of things I have been through in my life, or things that have been spoken or done to me.

I never knew how to break free from it, I always felt less than anybody around me because of the way I looked or how I spoke and all I wanted was to feel love. I was finding love in the wrong places or things. I was looking for a way out, wanting to know how to escape everything within me and learning how to love me.

These are ways that help me to be free:

  • Taking responsibility for my own life and decisions, which can be hard at times, but I have to do it.
  • Forgive, which is a choice, not a feeling. Never give a person or something so much power over me that I choose not to forgive.
  • I no longer rely on someone else’s validation to feel good about myself. When I started taking responsibility for myself, it began to build my self-esteem and stability within and gave me hope. I started feeling good about myself.
  • Self-esteem problems can damage many important parts in my life, like relationships, ambitions, achievements, and health when playing the victim role.

I never want to be powerless and helpless another day in my life. I lost many years of my life by being powerless and helpless. I was giving someone else command over me, and allowing them to have control of my responsibilities and relinquishing my God given power and will.

I replace a negative with a positive by:

Changing my mind to what can go right instead of wrong. I learned the mind can only think one thought at a time.

  1. Using affirmation.
  2. Using humor and fun or being around someone that makes me happy.
  3. Reminding myself that the negative thought that I’m thinking is only negative, it has no power other than what I give it.

Most of all fall in love with me!

 

 

 

Stronger Than HIV

 Stigma is a cancer. If we allow it to, it eats at your soul. We can’t allow stigma to take over or overshadow us as individuals. HIV is such a small part of our DNA. We were who we are before we contracted or were born with HIV. It is nothing that is our fault and we can’t let it overshadow our goals. HIV is somethistigmang that moved in, uninvited. We have to be stronger than HIV.

 
I am a mother. I am a grandmother and great-grandmother. No matter how great the obstacles we face, God never puts too much on anyone that can’t handle it. Believe in yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself.

Put HIV in its place and love your life. Continue to live your life and be confident with the woman that you are. I was diagnosed 29 years ago and today I stand before you, undetectable.

Preferred Language 101

We use language in everything we do and the language that we use may allow others to be stereotypical when it comes to us who are affected by HIV. People copycat the language that is used, first by us, and then from the media, doctors and other people that we admire.

Most of the time language is used incorrectly, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident -thereby lack of education. It also carries stereotypical factors and concepts.  This language alienates those affected by these messages.

Since the beginning of HIV and AIDS we have seen and heard stigmatizing messages, which change the way we feel about ourselves.  We say we are trying to improve this, but people are still doing the same thing. In order to use better language, we must become more educated and share what we have learned. Terminology is important–from the words we speak to the illustrations that we paint.

Recently, many groups have surfaced that explicitly discuss new and upcoming HIV-related terms. According to some articles, “Preferred Language” helps remove judgment from the individual and rather, focuses on the individual.

There are some words that people use that may be demeaning and cause stigma, and then there are the “Preferred” words that may be used instead that are less harmful, with a meaning that is more understandable.  Try changing your terminology, which can change the way you think.

Stigmatizing words Preferred Language
HIV patient Person living with HIV
Died from AIDS Died from AIDS- related illness
HIV Virus  HIV (otherwise it is a redundant use of HIV)
Prostitution or prostitute  Sex worker or sale of sexual services
Became infected Contracted/Acquired

 

Can you think of some stigmatizing language along with its ‘Preferred Language” that can be used instead? 

For further information, check out the discussion in Poz:

https://www.poz.com/article/vickie-lynn-valerie-wojciechowicz-28210-9008

or more terms at:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2015/2015_terminology_guidelines

 

Finishing School With HIV

Living with HIV presents its own sets of challenges, but when you add school and homework to the mix it can make life even more difficult. I had to take 2 years off of school when I developed HIV-related cancer, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and for the moment HIV had won out against my determination to finish school. Beating the cancer was challenging in itself, and I was really too sick and tired to even think school-related thoughts. After I went through chemo, surgery, and had been in remission for some time, I started to think about school and how to pick up where I left off. I was a year in remission when I re-enrolled to finish my A.A. degree and get my life moving forward again.

My point is that everybody, especially those living with HIV and other chronic illnesses, can face their greatest challenges and still come out fighting on the other side. You might leave some pieces of yourself behind in that dark time, but everybody has something to live for. For me, that was my family and finishing my schooling. No matter what it is you are fighting for, just remember that there are others fighting alongside of you. Everybody might be fighting for different things, but at least you are fighting!

LTAI World AIDS Day Event

In partnership with the Florida Museum of Natural History the women of Let’s Talk About It (LTAI) held a special event to commemorate World AIDS day (Monday, December 1st). Darcie MacMahon, head of exhibits and public programs, welcomed participants on this special commemorative event. Throughout the afternoon, local community leaders and peer advocates shared their testimonies and encouraged everyone to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The butterfly has been a long standing symbol for the women of LTAI. Just as caterpillars experience a transformation, the women of LTAI have also endured tremendous journeys to become the strong beautiful women that they are today! A special recognition was given to one of the members of LTAI who created a beautiful piece of art portraying the transformative process which many of the women identify with.

The afternoon ended  with a tour of the butterfly rainforest, where the LTAI women had a chance to delight in the beauty of thousands of different butterflies in the company of their peer advocates. This event also marked the launching of the second LTAI magazine, Let’s Talk About It: Put Yourself First, written by the peer advocates of LTAI.

If you would like to read the article about the event published in the Gainesville Sun please click the following link: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20141201/ARTICLES/141209967?p=1&tc=pg&tc=ar

We would also like to share with you the photo gallery of the event at the following link:http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=GS&Date=20141201&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=120109994&Ref=PH&pl=1

If you would like to know more about LTAI and our monthly meetings or how you can get a copy of the second LTAI magazine please let us know in a comment below or give us a call at 352-372-1095, we’d love to hear from you!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the women at LTAI wanted to share with you some words of encouragement about this topic.

It is important to remember that for many survivors of domestic violence, gathering the courage to speak up takes support and encouragement from others. All of us can find ways to raise awareness about domestic violence and ease the pain and stigma for those that we may know who are survivors. Remember, as many of our LTAI women have said “you are never alone!”

Thoughts from a peer:

“It’s not your fault and never let anyone take your voice. You are not alone and there are people, men and women that you can talk to, so never feel like you are all by yourself. We all deserve love without pain. If love gives you pain, you don’t need it. Pick yourself up and speak out. It’s hard to speak up but love yourself enough to speak up. You are your first line of defense. “

In what other ways can we show support to survivors of domestic violence? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!

Advice from a Caregiver: Part 4

Today we conclude our “Advice from a Caregiver” series and our final question is about the importance of educating others about HIV. One caregiver shares how HIV doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone both directly and indirectly. As we conclude this series let us think about how we can work to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS so that we too can be supportive friends, and advocates

What message do you share when educating others?

“You can learn a lot from people with HIV. I think no matter what, education is key. You see their perseverance and how they deal with life, dealing with the stigma and what they are able to overcome. It should be your number one goal to reduce that stigma because HIV can affect anyone. That’s my message when I go out and talk about HIV. I say that it can affect anyone, you are not out of the range [of infection], and no one is invincible. HIV/AIDS doesn’t discriminate and it could be your friend, your brother, your sister, your mom or your dad. Anyone in your life can get it! How are you going to react to that?”

Do you have any extra tips on how to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS? Share with us your thoughts and comments below!

Click on the links to see PART 1, PART2, or PART 3!