Editors Note: Bradford McIntyre, an HIV activist who runs the “Positively Positive: Living with HIV” website in Canada (www.PositivelyPositive.ca) has participated in HIV.gov’s #FacingAIDS initiative for four years. We asked him how he heard about the initiative, how he uses it in his work, and what Facing AIDS means to him.
How did you first hear about Facing AIDS?
Always on the lookout for HIV/AIDS-related materials on the internet, I discovered Facing AIDS in 2009 through the HIV.gov website and began including both HIV.gov and Facing AIDS in the “links and resources” section and throughout my own HIV/AIDS website.
What does Facing AIDS mean to you?
For me, Facing AIDS means acknowledging the HIV/AIDS epidemic and facing it head on. I have been living with HIV since 1984 and for the last 20 years, I have been committed to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS through volunteering my time to HIV/AIDS causes and through my Positively Positive website. I have put a face to living with HIV, working to bring hope to others with HIV that they too can live long and healthy lives!
I believe that the Facing AIDS initiative contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS because people need to see others who are infected with HIV and who are unafraid to speak publicly about the fact that they have HIV. This helps others feel comfortable about disclosing their own HIV status. Through Facing AIDS, people who are affected by HIV and living with HIV are putting themselves out there via their photographs and messages so that others can see they want to put a stop to HIV and AIDS. They are not afraid to be seen and heard, which helps battle stigma and discrimination.
How have you used your own Facing AIDS photos and messages in your work?
This year marks my fourth year as a participant in the Facing AIDS initiative. I have been promoting Facing AIDS on my website and posting my own personal Facing AIDS photographs along with information and links to HIV.gov’s Facing AIDS initiative page. I share my Facing AIDS photo with individuals, groups and organizations globally, and encourage others to participate in Facing AIDS to raise the level of HIV/AIDS awareness. I also create posts on my Facebook page, reminding people of the importance of knowing their HIV status and being proactive by getting tested.
With 35 million people currently living with HIV in the world, we all need to continue working together to prevent new HIV infections and AIDS and to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS. It is my intention to continue to speak through my experience and to use my Facing AIDS photograph to reach out and benefit others.
What response have you gotten?
The response I have received to my HIV disclosure and ongoing efforts has been very positive and immensely supportive. It is rewarding to know that others are taking steps to face AIDS!
I feel very fortunate to be here and to be celebrating 29 years living with HIV. Happily, I am able to participate again this year in HIV.gov’s Facing AIDS initiative. I strongly urge and encourage others to participate by “putting a face to AIDS for World AIDS Day and beyond.” HIV can be stopped with public awareness.
To learn more about HIV.gov’s Facing AIDS initiative and to create your own Facing AIDS photo and message, visit HIV.gov’s Facing AIDS page. Share your message using #FacingAIDS
Please send your comments, feedback, or shared experiences.