His words highlight the importance of intentional language and actions in ending the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. We must all consciously work to battle stigma in our own minds, lives, and communities.
“Today…be aware of what you have not said. Be aware of what you have not done. The burden of disclosing our status is heavy. Each time someone hears that we have HIV, the response is never the same. But it is so much easier to try if we know and believe that you are safe for us.
Be a safe place to hear about our journey and its costs. Be a safe space to encourage us to get tested, to stay in care, to protect ourselves and others. Don’t just hope that we think or believe that you are on our side. Prove it with your words and actions.
Every person living with HIV wants and needs the support and love of the people [they love and hold] dear. We once told people at risk to be safe. It is now our request of you. Be a safe space for people with HIV. Your safe acts and safe words may encourage us in ways you may never fully know.”