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Irish Documentary Explores HIV Stigma and Fear

Irish Documentary Explores HIV Stigma and Fear

two young men sitting at diner booth
How to Tell a Secret poster

How to Tell a Secret showcases the difficulty of disclosing your HIV status and how to fight stigma.

How to Tell a Secret, an Irish documentary based on a play entitled Rapids, explores what it’s like to live with HIV and disclose your status in a world where the condition is “easier to live with than diabetes.”

Meant to be an “artistic look at HIV disclosure in Ireland,” the stories within the documentary weave between young men, migrant women, drag artists and activists, many of whom have never been so open about their status.

“At the heart of the documentaries is that notion of giving a voice to people — and giving people a platform to tell their stories,” writer Anna Rodgers told PinkNews. “We wanted to create a space where we could talk about these issues. HIV rates in Ireland have skyrocketed in the past year in particular, and yet Irish society doesn’t talk about it much.”

One particularly powerful scene revolves around Robbie Lawlor, an HIV activist and a focal narrative of the film, as he examines newspapers with headlines like “HIV sufferers…”

Shaun Dunne, who co-wrote and starred in the film and was also behind the Rapids play, thinks the media isn’t moving fast enough to tell the necessary stories.

“What we’re up against is a huge amount of silence that was there at a very core time, and the massive generational impact that has had,” he said. “I’ve been in this conversation for a while now; I’m trying my hardest to celebrate the work that is being done, as opposed to being bogged down with what isn’t.”

Both writers hope the documentary will help further the conversation, with Rodgers saying, “If people walk away thinking, ‘If somebody tells me they’re HIV positive next time I’m on a date, or I’m on a dating app’ and they realize that’s okay, and they don’t close off their options… that’s a win.”

Watch the trailer for How to Tell a Secret below:

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Andrew J. Stillman