Stigma Around U=U Affects Everyone, Not Only Those With HIV
HIV prevention manager on demystifying U=U stigma
The Switch spotlights people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), as they share their lived experiences and the impact making “the switch” to positive lifestyle and health routines has had on their lives.
Caleb Brown, a youth and young adult HIV prevention manager for AIDS Foundation in Houston, Texas, fights to combat the stigma surrounding being HIV positive everyday through his work. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to make a switch in his own mindset when he found out his status.
“I wasn’t afraid of dying or getting sick, it was what were people going to think? And I was talking to my brother one night and I was telling him about some of these fears and concerns and I realized that [their] fear is based on a lack of education. We’re afraid of what we don’t know,” Caleb shares. And since then, Caleb has since made it his goal to help lessen the stigma around HIV, especially on the subject of undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U).
“There’s almost this misconception that people who have HIV and who are undetectable, lie. It’s such an odd thing to me, because when people have that conversation and someone says they’re HIV negative, so many people just assume it’s the truth,” Caleb states. Caleb shares that there are a lot of people out there who will trust someone who states that they’re HIV negative but won’t trust people who are undetectable.
“I was talking to a friend who said that they only have sex with people who are HIV negative and I asked how he knew that was true. And he said, ‘Well they tell me,’ and I asked if they get tested together, and he said, ‘No.’
Caleb continues, “And so I asked him when he last got tested and he said that it was a year and a half ago. Well right now it’s more dangerous for me to have sex with you then it is to have sex with me,” Caleb says. It’s that type of honest conversation that people need to truly demystify the stigma surrounding HIV and U=U.