For Many, Stigma of HIV Harder to Live with than the Disease
Howard University News | 11/20/2012, 3:14 p.m.
"People see HIV in red letters," Olivia said. "But they don't really know what it is. I have to explain to them that it is not AIDS."
As a teenager, her HIV status often made relationships difficult with friends and potential boyfriends. Although Olivia first told her best friend about her status in the fourth grade, she says it is still difficult to have that conversation with friends today. Her trick is to let people get to know her first, so she can determine who she can trust with her secret. The first reaction is usually shock, then silence, then a lot of questions, she said. Sometimes, her revelation is automatically followed by rejection.
"People you really thought were cool will surprise you," Olivia said. She recalled an incident at the mall with her friends when one of them jokingly mentioned that out of the four, she would probably be the one to have HIV.
"It was a hard moment."
Olivia has a friend that refuses to tell their status toanyone. One friend always takes her pills in a bathroom stall, facing the wall, so that no one will see her face through the crack in the stall door.
"People don't realize how much it consumes your life," she said.