The young woman called us for help because she and her family were being harassed by their neighbor. The harassment began after the neighbor learned that she was living with HIV. The neighbor spread mean-spirited gossip and threatened to report her to “the authorities” for not “registering” as a person living with HIV.
We sent a letter to the neighbor advising her of the privacy rights of people with HIV and that there is no requirement to register. In response to our letter, the neighbor called our office and left us hateful phone messages, but she stopped harassing the young woman and her family.
Three years later, in a recent chance encounter with the young woman, we learned that the experience had affected her in ways we couldn’t imagine. Instead of feeling a greater need to hide that she was living with HIV, she decided to be open and public about it.
She started a blog, healingisvoluntary.com, in which she shares her experiences, advocates for people living with HIV, and creates community.
I have chosen to share my stories, my truths with you all in an attempt to open dialogue about some things. Like for real, let’s talk about this stuff y’all call taboo. Heal. Because if we don’t, it is going to continue to hurt us all. I will go first.
Rights are so often built on the courage of people putting a voice to their experience and standing up. She is healing shame, stigma and isolation through communication and opening dialogue. We are so proud of this young woman who has found her voice and is speaking to others.