The HIV POSITIVE T shirt is such a strong and simple tool…
1. It challenges whoever sees the wearer of the T shirt into responding in some kind of way..which could range between….
”Oh my God, the person wearing this T shirt is HIV positive..Should I attack them, run away, feel sorry for them, or ask them why they’re making such a provocative statement”?
2. If I ask them if they’re HIV positive and they say that they are..Should I… “Shuffle away as quickly as possible”? “Commiserate with them, and shuffle away as quickly as possible”?
“Ask them where they bought the T shirt, and buy one immediately, so I can wear one too”? Ignore the whole thing, and regard it as a bizarre fashion statement.
Interesting…the fact that I wore the T shirt made thousands of people speculate whether I was was HIV positive or not. So many people responded, that it was the number one most discussed topic on Yahoo and My Space. It’s such a simple thing, to wear a T shirt with a message like that…yet it is highly controversial, and it forces people to confront an issue that is usually ignored, or kept at a distance.
The stigma that accompanies HIV is truly profound, for many reasons, and the problem is that it is so stigmatised that it walks into a closet, and shuts the door behind itself, thus creating and re creating paranoia, fear and discrimination.
The T shirt is a bold statement of solidarity with those of us who are HIV positive.
It risks social chastisement, because it is accompanied by a load of fear and taboo.
33 million people are currently living with the HI virus, but they are mainly invisible…either because we haven’t come to terms with it…socially/politically, or because we just don’t care.
We want HIV to go away…We want it to be “sorted”, like an ancient issue from the Eighties..but it’s currently the biggest killer of women of reproductive age around the globe.
As a woman and a mother I intend to keep sending out the message…even if it often feels like I’m the little Dutch boy with my finger in the dam…