What not to tell people who are HIV+

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Lizzie Jordan, founder and director at Think2Speak, is a multi-award-winning social entrepreneur, who is also a widow and a mother living with HIV. Lizzie recognized the issues being faced in classrooms across the UK and wanted to do something about the ‘uncomfortable silences’ when it comes to discussing certain delicate issues like health condition in general and such diseases like HIV in part. So she gives certain advice on how to talk to the people with HIV. The first one is not to mention it until they do. Curiosity is OK, but people in general don’t like to be seen as a source of information about their condition. It is just a virus, it is not a person’s choice or a part of their identity, it does not define the personality. Never ask people how they got it. You don’t ask people about how they got cancer or diabetes, do you? But there is still a blaming stigma around HIV like a disease of people who have unprotected sex. Although it is not necessarily like that – HIV is transmitted through blood, so one can get it at a dentist or at a manicure salon without even knowing about it at first. Don’t tell people with HIV that they “look well”, because this is a type of condition where nothing actually makes people look worse than those who live without it. And don’t be afraid to talk to people with HIV, to get close. There are only three ways to transmit it: through blood, through unprotected sex and from a mother to a child during pregnancy, but many HIV people take special medications to make this virus untransmittable even in these 3 cases, so contacting with them creates no threat.

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