by Danielle Greer

With the latest entries on social media aimed at alienating and discriminating against an individual who is allegedly living with HIV, we again need to be mindful of how we treat other people.

Individuals have been sharing this person’s photo and giving information that is quite likely, not true. It is a blatant violation of someone’s privacy, without any care of implications and consequences for our actions. We need to think harder about the things we do and what we share. How would we feel if someone broadcasted our private business on social media for others to see? What if this person was someone close to you, someone in your household, an old friend, your mother, your sister or brother. Would you still be as eager to share and spread this message?

Some use the spread of this information as pseudo-concern for their own and other people’s health. Sharing a post of someone who allegedly is a person living with HIV does not protect you or anyone else from contracting HIV. How many of us are still having unprotected sex, and also continue to have unprotected sex with multiple partners? How many of us put ourselves at risk of contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection), and share this post to ‘warn’ others? We need to take precautions in our own sex lives, take responsibility for ourselves and mind our own business by protecting ourselves instead of sharing ‘click-bait’ and fake news with our networks.

We also need not show our ignorance on a grand stage. People living with HIV who are on medication to maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus, and therefore pose no threat to anyone.

People living with HIV are not the problem – they generally live healthy lives. The real issue lies with those who refuse to know their status yet find it suitable to share these kinds of posts and gossip – clearly showing hypocrisy and a lack of empathy.

Now is an opportunity to educate ourselves. Stigma and discrimination are the real diseases that we need to expose – our social media platform should be used to bring awareness to and help eradicate.

Let us promote love and respect each other, regardless of HIV status, sexual orientation or gender. We must remember that we all experience things that others may use against us, but if we model love and inclusion and treat others in the ways we would like to be treated, we would all live much happier lives.

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