Positive Affirmations Day 2017
Virus is Suppressed
Are the 3 words I chose this year for my Positive Affirmations Day Picture or #PAD2017. This year on December 2nd will be the third year I have participated in Mel Rattue’s Positive Affirmations Day campaign that she launched in 2014 to show the world that the peaple living with HIV (PLWHIV) are not only surviving but we are thriving, we are living, we are happy, in love, having families and the so many other lifetime achievements and memories that many of us never expected to have.
Watford, United Kingdom native Mel Rattue, founder at Positively Mindfulhiv as well as founder of Mindful Herts reached out to me in 2015 asking if she could add me to the list of people who were participating in her 2nd annual Positive Affirmations Day by submitting a picture of myself and 3 words that started with the letters, H I V to represent what and how HIV has affected and or impacted my life up to now. My first year I chose Hopeful, Impassioned, Voice, the next year (2016) I chose, H-equal, Inspired, Voice and this year in support of the #UequalsU (Undetectable=Untransmittable/Uninfectious) campaign I chose to showcase that PLWHIV are Harmless If Virus is Suppressed. This campaign is open to anyone HIV positive and also our HIV negative allies. Being part of this campaign has empowered me and helps push me to be bolder and fight stigma by not having any fear of what people will think when they see my face next to those three letters, H I V. So many people both newly diagnosed and long-term survivor struggle with feelings of fear, fear of rejection, stigma, fear of being open with our diagnosis. When someone living with HIV decides to come out publicly it can be the best and worst day. The best because you feel lighter and emotionally free and at the same time you feel completely vulnerable because now there is no hiding in the safety of secrecy. That is why campaigns like #PAD helps empower by using word association to encourage the individual to see how brave, powerful, & beautiful we have always been, not since acquiring HIV but from day one of our lives.
Anyone wanting to join in #PAD2017 please just email a picture of yourself with 3 words that begin with the letters H I V to Mel@positivelymindful.org.
Since joining the #PAD campaign I have witnessed a large, very diverse group of people from all walks of life joining in to show support and get support by sharing pictures from all around the globe and in many different languages. Everyone is encouraged to participate and everyone is welcomed. I hope to see all of your faces out there this year!
My story about why I chose to support the #UequalsU campaign so openly and passionately.
Diagnosed HIV-Positive in 1996, I recently just passed my 21 year anniversary of diagnosis this past February 20th. HIV medication in 1996 was only given to people whose CD4 or T-cells (helper cells) were under 500 and mine were about 750 without medication. After I was diagnosed positive I found out that the only way to gain access to the HIV medication I heard was having miraculous results was to get approved for clinical trials. So I traveled almost 3 hours to Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in Indianapolis and saw an infectious diseases (ID) doctor there who finally got me into an approved clinical trial and for two years I was on daily medication, 21 pills a day, lol, but still my viral load was undetectable and my T-cells were over 1000 so, YAY ME! However, after the two-year clinical trial was over, I did not qualify for any other trials going on in my state so I was off meds. And unfortunately, the man I was dating paid the price because we stopped using condoms during the trial and once my viral load went back up he acquired HIV from me. The partner study for #UequalsU cited over 58,000 instances of penetrative condomless sex between one positive partner with an undetectable viral load and one negative partner without any transmissions, WOW, how do you argue those results?? I wish I had the chance to protect my loved ones like people can today. Even with all these facts and studies, there is still about 15% of the HIV community who refuses to believe these hard, unyielding, FACTS.. Many claims that the viral load fluctuates too dramatically for this to be true or safe. 58,000 instances is a very dramatic number for me to just overlook it. My own HIV story is proof of that truth before the study. I can understand how someone who was diagnosed after me could be scared from lack of experience if nothing else. Being scared should not be the deciding factor when you have scientific proof.
The people sharing this information are not saying there is NO risk to everyone. We are saying there is 0 risk to our sexual partners. For more information about the #UequalsU campaign please check out and even feel free to join our S4 team to help spread truth not more myths! www.preventionaccess.org
Please don’t let this be your HIV story. Get in, get tested, know your HIV status and protect that status and the people around you with every resource available.