I was a freshmen in high school (1990) when I heard my parents whispering about Miguel. He was in the hospital and my mother had been to see him. Miguel had AIDS.
At 14, I sort of knew what AIDS was. It wasn’t openly talked about, often a word whispered among adults. But I knew that Rock Hudson had died from it a few years earlier. And my aunt (who owned a hair salon in lower Manhattan) talked about it often. Though she never used the word AIDS, she’d say “sick.”
Miguel was gay and my father was shocked by the news. My mother wasn’t. “I always kind of knew,” she said. When Miguel died, my father was devastated. He had lost one of his best friend and he realized that he never really knew Miguel at all.
For some people, talking about HIV/AIDS may be uncomfortable and may feel embarrassing at first, even with close family members and friends. With a little preparation and practice, you can boost your confidence, overcome any fears that you might have, and start talking openly about HIV with your family and friends. A conversation does not always have to be face-to-face. Whether you talk, type, or text, what is important is that you start the conversation about HIV.
It’s Time To Talk. HIV One Conversation at a Time
HIV One Conversation Talking Points
- HIV is still a health issue in the United States. More than 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, including more than 220,000 Hispanics/Latinos.
Myths persist about how HIV is transmitted. HIV is spread mainly by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. HIV cannot be spread by casual contact such as hugging, shaking hands, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a door knob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, cigarettes, pets, or insects. HIV is not spread through the air, and it does not live outside the body.
Many people who are living with HIV don’t know it. Getting an HIV test is the only way to know if you have HIV. HIV testing is fast, free, and confidential. To find an HIV testing center near you, you can enter your ZIP code online, call 800-CDC-INFO, or text your ZIP code to “KNOW IT” (566948) and you will receive a text back with a testing site near you. You can also get a home testing kit (the Home Access HIV-1 Test System or the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test) from a drugstore.
- Although there is currently no cure for HIV, there are treatment options that can help people with HIV and AIDS live active and longer lives. Proper medical care including taking medicine known as antiretroviral therapy (ART) can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV and lower their chance of infecting others.
- HIV can be prevented. Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. In addition to limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms correctly and consistently, you may be able to take advantage of medicines that prevent HIV such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis(PEP).
For more tools/tips visit www.cdc/gov/actagainstaids