“Well have you got it?" and I said "Well yeah I am living with HIV, I got a diagnosis about 9 months ago" and he went "Oooh, so you are going to die from this then?" and I said “No I have absolutely no intention of dying from this. I'm going to be living with this and living very well”.
That moment when you meet someone, they’re attractive, you’re really into them, they’re really into you and then you realise you have to tell them you are positive and it could go one of two ways.
When I disclosed my status on my family, I was chased away from my home.
I want to share my experience on when my sister disclosed to me that she was HIV positive. She told at a time when she was really sick and by that time HIV was not really talked about in our country.
It was a really difficult thing because of you know all the public perception around HIV and it makes it really difficult to sort of take that plunge and tell people.
"When I’m open about my PrEP use often people living with HIV will disclose their status to me. And that’s a real privilege."
Sometimes the worst stigma is self-stigma, and sometimes you can cripple yourself with fear and the only way that stigma and fear are going to die within someone is through compassion and empathy.
We ended up holding a little forum in the pub and it was mind-blowing...people aren't as closed off as we can believe.
In 2007 I generated so much courage in my heart and in my mind and I committed to myself at this time I would definitely share my HIV status to my father-in-law.
I had no shame around it and I knew it would be a good opportunity to have a public role model, someone living a health life, living a normal, successful life on a television show.
Focus less on the disadvantages and what the advantages are which is creating more trust and ability to gain support.
"Being up front with my status has made my online engagements a whole lot more positive."
In one day I told my parents, I told my friends, I told my job, I set up a YouTube site and decided that this illness can help me in a way to get a stronger mind by documenting how I felt in an open forum.
She goes, "OK you have HIV, so what?" which is really not what I expected! And then looks over at my dad and says "Did you hear what he said?" and my dad said "Yeah I heard, and I share the same sentiments as you, he has HIV, so what!"
They taught me to be strong to stand against stigma and I think its where I picked up myself and became an activist, who I am today.
"There's no perfect answer--we've been grappling with this for years because there is no one right day, right time, right environment to make a disclosure"
Mom, I have tested positive for HIV, but it doesn’t mean I will ever get sick it just means that I have the virus in my body.
Ever since coming out with it, I’ve started to heal. I wish I had started that healing process 20 years earlier. I wish I had talked to people about it. Keeping that secret was pointless and sad and I feel for myself when I look back and see that younger person.
After that time I disclose my status I feel like something went out, the burden was off my shoulders, because I disclosed my status.
"Because I'm so open about it I'll get people disclose their status to me. The conversations are normally quite sweet, quite endearing and a lovely part of friendship"
I wasn’t told I was HIV positive until I was 13 years old and when I was told, it shattered my self-perception. When you are a teenager you have a certain idea of who you are and you’re trying to figure it out and being told at that age was heartbreaking.
What I would do is that I would disclose to them the very first time they expressed their interest, but then I grew tired of doing that and only two months after I started dating my exboyfriend did I tell him about my HIV status.
I decided to just accept my status then I disclosed to my friends and my family. It was so easy for me like that to just disclose to my family and friends. The moment I saw that they were accepting me that's the moment I even told my other friends.
Once you tell the person, sometimes you are helping the other person, because some of them are shy.
The lesson that I learned from that is that you have to let people in your life, you know, I was so afraid of letting people in my life because I lived in isolation and shame and my mom taught me that I didn’t have to do that and so thank you mom, I love you.
Only recently, after decades, I posted my on Facebook my status and all I got was love.
Once I did disclose my status to him, I said it really quickly and hung up, and then I would not answer his phone call because in my mind I’m thinking he would never want to date me, he don’t want to have anything to do with me.
I sought after some support from friends and family and organisations as well, to actually get better informed, to actually sit down in front of my family and tell them exactly what I had.
25 years later, that disclosure of HIV to be specific, is always unpredictable, always exciting, sometimes scary but I will never stop doing it.
"Disclosing my HIV status has helped me get this far. I believe that whenever you have a challenge in life you can use it to get to the next level."
I continue to motivate people to disclose their status, because this is life, and life is too amazing to be negative.