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Another year, another December, another World Aids Day.
The good thing is that I am still seeing a lot of people for pre-test counseling for HIV but the majority of those people are testing negative.
I am also experiencing far less stigma attached to people being HIV positive with a lot of people being very open and honest about their status.  And generally just being OK with being positive – including my group of “positively positive” people.

That is the good news.
The bad news is that most of the people that I am seeing who are HIV positive are women.  These are often women who have been infected by their husbands or partners who are openly having relationships with other women and still refusing to use condoms.  More than just refusing, they are accusing the woman asking them to use condoms of having extra marital affairs, because obviously if you are insisting on using condoms, you must know that you might be carrying something.  Or so they say.  It constantly leaves me feeling saddened and frustrated.

For me, World Aids Day (and everyday in my life) is much more than being about HIV education and awareness but about women’s (and men’s) rights to assert themselves and be able to stand up for their rights with no fear.
Part of that, whether you are at risk of HIV or not, is that you teach people how to treat you!
If people treat you like you are not good enough or that you are not worthy, you need to take a serious look at yourself and ask yourself why you feel it necessary to be with somebody who does not respect you.
Are you not worthy of so much more than that?

My message for World Aids Day is to take a moment to really think about what you deserve – what you truly deserve – and then to take stock of the people that surround you.  Do they treat you the way you think you deserve to be treated?  If not, today is a good day to start doing something about it.
Take care of yourself.
Be worthy.
Be a hero to yourself.

I dedicate this to all who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS; to all who have been affected by it and to all who continue to soldier on and fight for injustice.  It is you who are the true heroes.

Aids awareness beads