HIV is: Just a part of me is a revealing campaign produced by Truvada maker Gilead Sciences and planned in coordination with several European HIV organizations including ARDHIS in France, BASELINE in the UK, and Plus Onlus in Italy.
The campaign aims to improve understanding amongst gay and bisexual HIV positive men of eight potentially serious health challenges that can affect their HIV health. To help others understand the realities of living with HIV, they have produced 9 extremely movie videos of very personal stories from men around the globe who talk about life after receiving their diagnosis.
These challenges they could face include osteoporosis, cancer, kidney disease, NAFLD, heart issues, diabetes, mental health, and lung cancer and COPD, so the Campaign is encouraging men living with HIV to move forward from just focusing on their viral load as a measure of health, towards considering their risk of developing these eight health challenges.
The first video is from Riccardo a 25-year-old from a conservative town in Italy who moved to London after falling in love and realizing he was gay. Shortly thereafter, Riccardo realized he was HIV-positive when he and his partner went to get an HIV test together.
He called his mom and told her he was gay and HIV-positive. His father responded with care. “I’ve been quite lucky to have those parents.”
Bisi is a 42-year-old Nigerian living in London. He calls himself an “angelic troublemaker.” He says when he became HIV-positive he decided to come out on television because he felt he had no other recourse since being gay is criminalized in his country. His mother told him, “you have to leave the country.” So he left for London. He started treatment: “It changed everything for me.”
Bisi’s story focuses on the kidneys, as many HIV-positive men have kidneys that have trouble getting rid of toxins due to the medication.
Paolo is a 31-year-old Italian man living in Lisbon. He is a singer who does drag as well. He was diagnosed with HIV when he was 23. “I felt like my life needed a radical change. I decided to move abroad and decided I needed to regain some energy to take care of myself.” In Lisbon, he came out as HIV-positive at a Pride celebration. “I still do party and I’m still the crazy person I was. I just do it a little more consciously.”
Wojciech is a 71-year-old from Poland. He was married 15 years and has 3 children. He became infected with HIV through his boyfriend and thought it would be a death sentence. He wouldn’t read the results of his test for more than a year. He was assaulted in Mexico and lost all his money and his possessions. He returned to Poland and went to the hospital and wanted to die.
A “very nice man” in Poland opened the door to activism for him, and he met others like him, which changed everything:
Philip is a 32-year-old UK man. He was diagnosed at the age of 24. He said “it was an intensely emotional moment” for him. He took solace in visiting churches and reflecting on faith. Christianity helped him accept his HIV and himself. He started to begin thinking about how to help others. He now goes to schools and speaks to young people about his HIV status and being gay and Christian:
You can read more about the Campaign and see all the other videos at http://www.hivisjustapartofme.eu/