To mark the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day and to help remove stigma around HIV and AIDS, British member of Parliament Lloyd Russell-Moyle revealed his HIV-positive status while speaking to the House of Commons, prompting members to stand and clap following his speech, according to The Guardian.
Remarking on the importance of World AIDS Day, which was begun in 1988, Russell-Moyle said, “Such events are also deeply personal to me. Next year I will be marking an anniversary of my own — 10 years since I became HIV-positive.”
“It has been a long journey, from the fear of acceptance and today, hopefully, advocacy, knowing that my treatment keeps me healthy and protects any partner that I may have,” he added.
He then went on to explain the process of having been diagnosed as HIV-positive a decade ago:
“When you get that call from the clinic and they just say, ‘You need to come in.’ They don’t tell you the details, and you know immediately that something is going to be wrong. All the different worst-case scenarios flash through your mind. At the same time, you are working out all the ways that this is some joke, some technical error, some tiny thing that they’re going to tell you that you’re going to be laughing about later on … and then they tell you and it hits you like a wall. Nothing quite prepares you for when they say those words. You walk out feeling totally numb with a million things going through your mind, and at the same time a sense of absolute nothingness.”
Later in his speech, in which he discussed cuts to HIV and AIDS funding that have come at a crucial time when there have been giant strides made in managing and eradicating it, he spoke of stigma.
“I wanted to be able to stand here in this place and say to those who are living with HIV that their status does not define them,” Russell-Moyle said. “We can be whoever we want to be, and to those who have not been tested, maybe because of fear, I say to you — it is better to live in knowledge than to die in fear.”