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How Finding Community Helps You Thrive When Living with HIV

The Switch is a video series about sharing positive lifestyle and health routines to help you thrive while living with HIV. In this series, you will hear from people living with HIV from varying backgrounds, with a focus on southern states where HIV is disproportionately prevalent. Listen to them talk candidly about positive changes they have made in their daily lives, including their approach to HIV treatment. The individuals share their lived experience and the impact making “the switch” has had on them.

Daniel Driffin has been thriving in life with HIV for 14 years but he remembers what it was like first finding out his status and how he made the switch to living a healthy life.

“I remember the day that I actually found out my HIV status. I made a post on Facebook and I said, today is seven years living with HIV. I remember being really sad initially, but now I am happy, I'm thriving. I thought about whether or not to delete it and say I was hacked on Facebook or to ultimately leave it up. And I left it up. And I think that placed me on this trajectory of living with HIV.” 

Making the switch has helped Daniel understand the stigma that those diagnosed with HIV continue to face daily. But the community has also helped Daniel overcome the stigma he has faced in his life.

“In general, I think when we think about ways to decrease stigma and improve HIV outcomes, it truly starts with having a sense of community around yourself. Also connected to reducing stigma or reducing shame specifically, it really starts with that initial conversation within yourself saying you are not less than, you are not other, you are still whole. I think when you come to the place of being fulfilled and not from a place of negativity especially attached to HIV, you are in control of stigma.”

And Daniel wants to remind anyone living with HIV that they’re not alone and that they can thrive just like him.

“If you are having a conversation with your medical provider or even inside yourself, it starts with a quick Google search or it can start with asking a friend or even asking others with HIV. I again echo the fact that first and truly take time to listen. You are not alone. There are countless people living and thriving with HIV.”

Related | How Conquering Fear Can Help You Achieve Your Long-Term HIV Treatment/Health Goals