HIV AIDS Stigma and education

Daytona HIV Poz People Support Group

In a support group people with the same problem find ways to cope with and defeat the problem. For example, people with cancer form support groups to help each other cope. People who have survived traumatic experiences like rape or other forms of abuse come together to discuss their problems and find coping strategies. With HIV, support groups work in the same manner and also focus on improving life coping skills. We also have to ensure our rights are respected.
Many people with HIV experience discrimination from strangers, our families, friends, lovers, healthcare workers and government. Discrimination is a result of ignorance. Members of a support group should support each other. Many people do not know how HIV is transmitted.
They do not know that many illnesses associated with HIV can be treated, or that HIV can be turned into a manageable chronic illness through antiviral treatment. Lack of knowledge leads to fear about HIV. As people living with HIV, we have to be experts in HIV treatments. We have to know the constitution and our rights. The more information we have, the better we can counter discrimination. We have a very loving and very diverse group of people that attend our support group.

We will meet weekly on Tuesdays

from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

201 University Blvd. Daytona Beach Florida 32118

(Corner of University and Halifax Drive)

Come help each other deal with our issues in a confidential, comfortable, and non-judgmental environment. All persons with HIV/AIDS are welcomed.

Jim Geary a long-term survivor and author of Delicate Courage, a memoir which chronicles his pioneering work in developing San Francisco’s AIDS services in the early eighties, will moderate. (www.delicatecourage.com)

Cell(386)235-6420

Telling Others You’re HIV-Positive
Telling others you’re HIV-positive may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. There may be only one thing that’s harder: the burden of carrying the secret alone. That doesn’t mean you must tell everyone. Who you tell is a very personal decision. Here are some things to consider as you think about who, when, and how to tell others that you’re HIV-positive.

Who Should I Tell That I’m HIV-Positive?
In general, it makes sense to tell those you trust that you’re HIV-positive. Doing so may even help foster a greater sense of closeness. Think about people you’ve shared difficult things with in the past. You may want to start by telling a friend, a family member, or someone you know who is also HIV-positive or has been through a similar experience. These are other people you should tell:
Your health care providers
Your past sex or needle-sharing partners
Your future sex partners
A family member or trusted friend who is likely to be able to speak for you in a medical emergency.

When considering whom to tell, think about questions like these:
Could this person harm me physically or emotionally?
Could this person discriminate against me, putting me at risk for losing my child, job, or housing?
Can I trust this person and are they likely to be supportive?
What will I gain by telling this person?

Why Should I Tell People I’m HIV-Positive?
Although you may want to be cautious about whom you tell, once you’re ready, there are good reasons to tell certain people that you’re HIV-positive.
You can gain emotional or practical support.
The person who infected you may not know they’re HIV-positive until you tell them.
You can protect future sex partners, give them the ability to make informed decisions, and enhance the trust between you.
It’s illegal in all 50 states to knowingly infect others. If you have unprotected sex without telling others, you’re putting yourself at legal risk, as well as endangering the health of your partners.
Your health care providers can ensure the best medical care for you

How Do I Tell People I’m HIV-positive?
There is no one way to tell others you have HIV. It’s often better to do this in person and one-on-one but people have also told others in groups, by phone, or with letters. There are even public health Web sites, such as http://www.inSPOTLA.org, that allow people to send e-cards to people with whom they’ve had casual sex. If you are meeting with someone to have this conversation, choose a place that is private and feels comfortable to you, and allow plenty of time to talk.

Here are things to consider when telling the different kinds of people in your life.

Friends and family members. In a perfect world, these would be the easiest people to tell. In reality, they are sometimes the ones most hurt, most fearful, or most angry. And, it often feels as though there’s more at stake if things don’t go well. However, keeping a secret from those you love can be painful. Be prepared for many different types of reactions.

Children. When is the right time to tell your children? Consider their ages and personalities and whether or not they’ve had experiences with illness. It might be a good idea to get professional advice first. Be prepared for many questions:
Why did this happen?
Am I sick, too? Will I become sick?
Will you get better?
Who would I live with if you die?

Sex or needle-sharing partner. This is the person who may have infected you — get your anger out of the way before you talk. Express how you feel, but stay calm. If you find it too difficult to tell this person yourself or you fear a reaction, you can enlist the help of your local public health department. Their staff can tell your past partners without giving your name. At the same time, they can offer counseling and testing.

Future sex partners. When it comes to relationships, timing is everything. The same could be said about the timing of telling someone you’re HIV-positive. You won’t want to be defined by it, but you will need to make sure you tell people you’re dating before you have sex with them. And choosing a neutral location is better than waiting until you’re naked and in bed.

Employer. You are not required to tell your employer you have HIV. But you’ll have to if you need changes in your schedule or workload to accommodate your illness. Get a letter from your doctor first. You may also need to reveal that you’re HIV positive on an application for Family and Medical Leave. Confirm with your employer that you want this kept confidential, which the law requires.

How Should I Prepare for Telling Someone I’m HIV-Positive?
Don’t jump into telling other people you’re HIV-positive without first preparing yourself:
Be prepared to give others an informational brochure or to send them to a Web site or hotline where they can learn more or get support for themselves.
Be ready for questions. Decide which questions you’re comfortable answering.
Decide how much advice you want from others, then let them know if you just want them to listen instead.
Be prepared for a variety of reactions. Some may be shocked. Others may fear getting HIV from you. People who distance themselves from you at first may not do so out of a sense of betrayal or lack of caring — it may be simply fear of losing you. They may just need some time to adjust.
Remember to make yourself a priority. You cannot control others’ reactions. Have a support person lined up to call afterwards or even bring the person with you for the discussion. You might plan to spend the night at a friend’s house that night or schedule a therapy session for the next day.
Join our facilitated peer support group for men and women.

 

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