Queensland Positive People has launched a new series of short films calling on people to unite against HIV stigma.
In the four films, Australians living with HIV share their stories of stigma, vulnerability and resilience, to shine a light on how the virus is often perceived and to call on the community to tackle that stigma and increase HIV testing.
The first instalment of the “Talking About HIV Stigma” series features former footy player Matt Hall (pictured), who was diagnosed with HIV at age 23 and banned from the AFL in 1998 because of his status. He opens up in the film about how he was affected by the ban and his fight to have the decision overturned.
Hall, who now lives on the Gold Coast, said we need to continue to educate society to eliminate HIV stigma and encouraged people who are living with HIV to get support.
“With the advances in science and medication, HIV is a manageable chronic health condition and it’s no longer a death sentence. The messages I’d give is to stand up against ignorance and discrimination. Call it out for what it is,” he said.
“We need to provide strength and resilience to those that may have been on the receiving end of HIV stigma and discrimination, and let them know they’re not alone. Try and be resilient and deal with the facts.”
QPP Executive Officer Simon O’Connor said stigma around HIV remains an “aggravatingly persistent hurdle” that impedes the fight against the virus.
“Stigma is socially constructed, and it’s pervasive. It happens at many levels: within employment, within healthcare settings and other institutions, within community, and at the personal level,” he said.
“In turn, people living with HIV can internalise the community’s perceptions of HIV which results in internalised stigma and very real feelings of anxiety, social isolation and psychological distress.”
The four short films will be posted on QPP’s “Talking About HIV Stigma” webpage over the coming months, beginning today with Matt’s story. Watch it below: