HomeOpinionLet us tell our stories, reduce the stigma

Let us tell our stories, reduce the stigma

I WANT to be part of a movement that really helps to end the stigma and end transmissions of HIV by 2030. I am devastated that there are still children born HIV-positive. That is part of the lack of knowledge.

I am calling for contributions to a proposed collection of stories about HIV/AIDS. If you wish to collaborate as an author you can write your story either using your name, or anonymously and use a pseudonym. It will be a compilation of stories/lived experiences. The project is my passion project and I started it because of the following:

I have been trying to date as a person living with HIV. Each time I disclose my HIV status I am either “ghosted” or I have to do a capacity building exercise. I cannot transmit the virus as I am undetectable. UNDETECTABLE = UNTRANSMISSABLE as long as the person takes their medication religiously and does routine blood tests. It is, of course, always advisable to wear condoms, however it is no longer mandatory as long as one has an undetectable viral load. It is soul destroying to carry the stigma for a disease that one may not have brought upon oneself.

This anthology includes stories from people born with the virus. I am one of the lucky ones as I am an HIV activist. I speak for many who cannot disclose their HIV status even to loved ones. I would like this project to dispel some of the myths/conspiracy theories around HIV/Aids. I am in my 30th year of being HIV-positive. So out of 55 years, 54 percent of my life has been as someone living with the virus.

The product is an anthology of lived experiences by people infected and affected by HIV/Aids and the pandemic. It is unique because it is done in original voices in any language of the author’s choice. It is going to be distributed via whatsapp and email as a pdf. It is not just People Living with HIV (PLWHIV). It is more than that.  Currently there are over 50 authors contributing.

This would be the quintessential book on lived experiences. What we have been doing to date is not working. The statistics tell the story and now Covid is putting HIV on the backburner.  A spot quiz on facebook showed that 55% of the quiz respondents still thought they could catch HIV from kissing a person; 89% said they would rather not have a relationship with someone infected.

A quote from the executive director of UNAids Winnie Byanyima says, “Despite compelling evidence that criminalisation of key populations blocks access to HIV services and increases HIV risk, discriminatory and punitive laws remain alarmingly common. Removal of harmful criminal laws is key to ending inequalities and end Aids by 2030.”

Please help me spread the word about my passion project. I have an explanation of the project in Arabic, English, Italian, IsiXhosa and Shona. Please share widely in your networks. I will share the French and IsiZulu once I receive them. I am looking for someone to translate into Swahili and any other African language so we have a rich anthology of lived experiences

There is no payment for the submission and people can submit their stories either as an alias to protect their identities or they can identify themselves. Audiotapes can be sent which can be transcribed for the book in the language of the author’s choice. All submissions can be sent to edmundgarwetrust@gmail.com.
                                                                                                       WADZANAI GARWE

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