Judith came to NZ as a refugee and after receiving a health check upon her arrival, she was told she had HIV. She reveals that the stigma is worse than the virus; you can live with the virus but the stigma will kill you emotionally. She would like everyone to talk about HIV as this is the only way that we can fight the stigma.
Jan was infected with HIV while working as a phlebotomist. She reveals that the stigma itself is ten times worse and would like people in NZ to educate themselves about the virus and to get an understanding that there is nothing to fear from people that are living with the virus.
Diagnosed with HIV at the age of 21 Jewel thought that her life was over. Because of her status she has had people judge her, not want to be around her and even think that she deserved to get the virus. She wants to remind us that H is for human and if you are human, this virus can affect you.
At the age of 48 and with 3 grown up children Gayle contracted HIV through having unprotected sex. Her family were wonderful when she told them; but others were not. Her message to NZ is that people are people and that we need to accept and love each other.
Diagnosed with HIV in 2006 at the age of 22, Charlie reveals that the stigma is 100% worse than the virus and would like others to become more informed about the virus. He says that in this day and age in a country such as NZ you can take control of your health but you have very little control over how people respond to your HIV status.
Diagnosed with HIV after receiving a needle stick injury at a dry-cleaning company, Lance on several occasions has found himself wishing life were over instead of having to go through the ordeal of living with HIV and the associated stigma. His message to NZ is that people living with HIV are normal people who are living with a chronic illness and are worthy of love and respect and that it is time to start talking about the disease.
After donating blood in NZ Shane found out he was HIV positive. Tracing his steps back, he thinks it may have been because of a blood donation or relationships that he had in Africa. He reveals that most people have the 1970’s/80s perspective of HIV and that living with the disease is not hard; but what is hard are people’s reactions to what they don’t know about HIV.
Michael has had HIV for five years and reveals that the stigma is worse than the virus. Some people stand off but when his family are around they kiss and hug him to let others know that they are not frightened of him because he has HIV. He says that the only way people are going to understand HIV is by talking about it.