Connor Brandon: Let’s remove the stigma surrounding HIV

From the Daily Pennsylvanian

In his recently released memoir, “Over the Top: A Journey to Self-Love,” Jonathan Van Ness revealed that he is HIV positive. While also being nonbinary, Van Ness is a trailblazer in the queer community. Van Ness is starting very important conversations about topics that need to be destigmatized in American society. HIV has been a problem facing the United States since the 1980’s, but many people are still uncomfortable discussing the disease.

closeup image of CONNOR BRANDON
CONNOR BRANDON is a freshman from Skippack, Pennsylvania studying Nursing

While HIV is a very serious disease, various stigmas still surround those living with it today. Those living with HIV today still face harsh judgement from certain people due to preconceived notions about the disease. People do not understand the current advancements in prevention and treatment, and they still believe myths that were spread about the disease in the 1980’s. Living with HIV today is very manageable, and I feel that educating people about the disease is the first step in removing HIV stigma.

I feel a connection to this topic on two levels: first off, being a gay man, HIV will always be a concern in the back of my mind. When the HIV epidemic broke out in the United States in the 1980’s, it largely affected the LGBTQ community. While prevention and treatment methods have improved astronomically, HIV still heavily impacts the LGBTQ community. Although anyone can contract the disease, the LGBTQ community makes up a majority of new cases diagnosed in the United States. Why is this?

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