Colorado’s Compassion; Ending the Stigma Campaign (World AIDS Day 2012)
On World AIDS Day, 2012, the state of Colorado launched an anti-stigma and discrimination campaign. This endeavor has been a community effort spearheaded by individuals and organizations who are coming together to begin open and honest conversations about HIV stigma, the barriers it creates to healthy discussions around risk, testing and accessing care. Our goal is to also engage the positive community in honest conversations about HIV as well, because we also recognize that people living with HIV also have internalized stigmas that need to be brought to the forefront and addressed.
Thus the Compassion-Ending the Stigma Campaign was born. This is an educational campaign that asks people to take a survey that can be found on our website or face book page. The survey will be available through-out the month of December and will be available in both English and Spanish. The survey will measure an individual’s stigmatizing beliefs. With the information derived from the survey, Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS (CORA) will take the data and share it on a national level.
As an African-American woman living openly with HIV, I have experienced stigma numerous times over the 26 years of my diagnosis. A very vivid memory is of a dear friend of mine who became my ally and an HIV educator to her mother, about my status. My friend is primary caregiver to her two beautiful grandsons. I have had very honest and open conversations with her about my diagnosis over the years, because in my journey I have learned that this chronic health condition of HIV is nothing to be ashamed of. It no longer has any power to dictate my actions, feelings or beliefs about myself. With this as my state of being, I have been able to share my truth (and fears) with my friend. So when her mother asked her if she was afraid to have me around her grandsons, for fear that I would transmit HIV to them, my friend very confidently was able to share with her mother that me and my health condition was nothing to be feared, and the reasons why.
I believe this is a responsibility we all have as people living with HIV. It is our hope that on World AIDS Day and beyond, that those in the Colorado community who will be speaking at, or engaged in a World AIDS Day event, will incorporate Compassion-Ending the Stigma Campaign into their message, and to encourage their audience to take the survey.
May we continue to embrace and rejoice in our truth, and to share that truth so that others will feel comfortable sharing their truth, and/or fear about being tested, as well as their fears and convictions about their HIV status.
Our contact information is:
Facebook Group: COMPASSION
Penny DeNoble ( A Positive Woman Living Positively)