HIV and ME: African LGBTI Women speak on HIV/Aids- Pt I
A moment ago we put out a call to start a conversation about how Afro-Queer Women understand, experience and deal with HIV/Aids. Below are some of the snippets African LGBTQI women gave us. All responses were submitted anonymously through the HOLAA HIV/Aids submission form (to submit click here) .
We hope that by reading some of these responses you too will be encouraged to keep talking to us about HIV/ Aids and help dissolve some of the myths and stigmas that force people into silence.
- “I guess you never feel anything for the disease or virus until you’re hit with a very disturbing result that you too are infected”
- “This is my story and it’s really interesting that you have ask this question as I’m faced with mixed feelings, I had problems as my partner does not see a point of using protection but she is HIV negative and I am HIV positive. As a lesbian in the LGBTI community I’m supposed to lower risk and many think lesbians cannot be infected. Speaking out can be an issue as there is a big stigma in this community. Questions will be asked if you are really a lesbian or bisexual.The fear of being outcast you die in silence, at least with this platform we will be able to talk about this virus fear of being ousted.This is my life and as black female in the corporate world being HIV positive can halt a lot… including promotions. Sometimes they just invent some kind of contract just to get rid of you. Families will wonder: “why is she infected kanti isn’t she a lesbian”. I am a lesbian, a mother, a black woman living in a township and I have recently been diagnosed with HIV. I am living my life on my own terms and I didn’t choose this but it’s in my blood. I am still me and this will never defeat me.”
- “I still make my own choices, I’m not on medication because my CD4 count is still very high, I try to eat healthy, and exercising is still an issue I’m too big to be running around.”
- “I’m hyper aware of HIV because I’ve seen so many people in my family suffer and die from AIDS related illnesses. Awareness of the risks of being infected affects my decision to choose partners selectively, decline casual sex, get tested often, and increase my knowledge of this and other STIs.”
- “It’s unfortunate that so many people – LGBT or not, young or mature – are under the delusion that HIV can’t touch them. In my experience, queer women are the most complacent and their general knowledge of STIs is dismal.”
- “I can picture myself in a relationship with an HIV+ person. We’ll eventually learn to enjoy each other safely without paranoia.”
- “I support people who have HIV+/AIDS partners. Safe sex, honesty and transparency should always feature in a relationship anyway.”
- “I know that it exists and that it’s harmful but somehow this knowledge is removed from my everyday existence. We (myself and my queer lady friends) speak about it as something that doesn’t happen to us.”
- “We forget that many of us sleep with men (not safely all the time) and engage in other risky sexual behaviour.”
- “The other day I got cut by a knife and did not think to check that it was sterilized first. I was reminded by someone else hours later.”
- “I should probably get a test and keep telling myself I should but then it somehow doesn’t take pre-eminence.”
- “Having to face up to the existence of HIV/AIDS and protecting yourself accordingly means having to face up to one’s mortality. Its easier to ignore it especially when you’ve put yourself behind a false wall of protection- that of only sleeping with women.”
- “It’s strange but I would never date a person with HIV. At the same time I have had sex with people before getting tested and don’t think twice about it. I know this is wrong but it’s more of a class issue to me. I always ask myself how educated is this person, do they have kids and what circles are they in?”
- “I’m more cautious of black women who live in or are from the township than I am about middle class people of all races.”
Thank you to each and every person who has shared their thoughts and experiences with us. To share your story with HOLAA! anonymously please click here.