By Lilllibeth Gonzalez
When I first met Bruce was at the Reunion Latina in 2016, he approached me and asked have you heard of UEqualsU? I responded yes from you! I was already following him on Facebook. But I also had a thought, so “I’ve been undetectable for 13 years” and not knowing this information; my then-husband would remove his condom I was unaware of this of course he would tell me afterwards.
Meeting Bruce has changed my whole world, I had internal stigma due to providers always using the word “Infected” that stigmatizing language keeps you in a silent mode, suffering inside saying to myself God I’m infected - I don’t want to be responsible for passing HIV on to someone. That language is very damaging, up to this date they still use it - but now I interrupt them and explain.
I go to all communities (mostly Spanish) and speak about UEqualsU, I go to salons, tailor shops I inform everyone. I ask them have you heard of UEqualsU In Spanish & English? They do not know what I’m talking about, I let them know if someone is HIV positive and on treatment and undetectable, they cannot pass the virus. I inform them that this is evidence-based science! They are surprised, we talk about how HIV stigmatizes a person living with HIV, how liberating it is to know and share this information with your communities. They leave more informed and open to share what they have learned.
I speak about UEqualsU to strangers in the train, taxi drivers, at family functions, in the street. I get very involved with the Latino community. My community is stigmatized both by society and peers, due to upbringing. We Don’t Talk about these things, you must be hush. I get a lot of push back from people, because they say this is no good, people are going to explore widely; I explain to them this is not a license to go sex crazy, this is solely for PLWH to get to undetectable levels so they can live a happy healthy life without stigma and continue to have healthy sex, and even have a relationship and or a family. Like me, I’m very happy due to UEqualsU #Bodegaopen