2 minutes ago
Although Pride Month has ended, health providers can support LGBTQ youth of color, particularly young people living with HIV by offering a compassionate and affirming environment. I was 16 years old when I found out that I was diagnosed with HIV. Unfortunately, health providers brainwashed me into thinking that I was a disgusting person that needed to be taught a lesson for having unprotected sex. These same providers often scared me into believing that if I did not pay attention to their stigmatizing instructions, that I would be punished.
At the age of 16, the sex education information that I received in school lacked information related to HIV. Resilient, I knew I couldn’t accept the messaging that HIV was a death sentence and instead began to educate myself about HIV. In my mind, I thought life couldn’t be over for me before it could really begin. A part of me wanted to give up because I thought I’d always have to live in shame with exploring my sexuality and having sex.
With the help of people that I could trust, friends and family, my life improved. I was able to educate myself and others about how to manage HIV and care for themselves. I soon realized that loving and forgiving yourself will empower you to LIVE!
LGBTQ young people and young people living with HIV deserve a place where judgment about their health status isn’t tolerated. Everyone is different and I believe physicians should be aware of that, while simultaneously creating a safe space for all young people to receive care.