Posted by Pozziepinoy on 1:39 AM

Lord Voldemort (born Tom Marvolo Riddle) is a fictional character in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. He is the archenemy of Harry, who according to a prophecy has "the power to vanquish the Dark Lord". Almost no witch or wizard dares to speak his name, instead referring to him by epithets as as "You-Know-Who" and "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

In contrast to this story, the letters HIV is familiar to Voldemort. It has stigma to it that nobody can even mention it directly except the HIV advocates and doctors. For the general public, it feels like no one wants to speak of it or directly address it during normal, day to day conversations.

Let's take on a simple case. All my family members and the members of the family of my partner Tag knew about me having HIV. It is a fact that we disclosed ever since I got diagnosed in 2011. On day 2, we told everyone about my diagnosis. We made it a point to share it with them so that we don't have to worry about them thinking of other illnesses. We believed that we didn't have to lie about it so that everything is out in the open, so we can discuss it freely, or talk about it in public.

Well, my HIV and AIDS became a matter of fact. After the disclosure, it was never talked about. It is like a thing of the past, like a passing of an evil spirit. It was like a dark cloud that happened once and never happened again. They see me happy and healthy and HIV and AIDS conversations were as scarce as a grain of salt in a salt bag.

Once in a while though, our families would ask us about my condition. They would check if I'm ok, but they can't say the magic word "HIV". It is like asking me if I was ok because I have "You-Know-What". The "You-Know-What" can't be verbalized as if it so evil and so scary like "He-Would-Must-Not-Be-Named" in Harry Potter.

Well even my friends, can't say the magic letters. Again, once in a while, they would ask how I am, and how my health condition is but never directly say HIV. Once again, the "You-Know-What" or HIV can't be directly spoken. It is so scary to even be spoken about. Quite annoying as you feel how people try to construct their sentences so that it would not come out as rude or discriminating or judgmental.

But how come people still can't say it? Is HIV so serious and so scary that one can't say it to another person? Does this mean that they are so naive about it that they are so careful in saying it? Does it signify their level of awareness and knowledge about it? Does saying HIV directly to a person with HIV comes all the time with prejudice? Or do they feel that saying the letters of my disease is offensive?

I know for a fact that there was a tinge of pain years ago when Tag would say that I have HIV and AIDS, but that openness made me accept it more easy. We can say and discuss HIV freely and without judgement. I love my family and friends, but somehow I wish that they too would directly say HIV instead of "You-Know-What".

Looking back I realized that I am to be blamed for this. I also taught them not to say it. Whenever, they say "You-Know-What", I just accepted it and not tried to correct it. I educated them the wrong way. I made them feel that not saying HIV is ok.

Changes should be done. I turned a blind eye for a long time but this has to stop. I have to make sure that when they start saying or implying "You-Know-What" or "He-Who-Must-Not-be-named", I should tell them that it is ok to say HIV and AIDS to me. I have to make them feel that I am comfortable when they say it. I have to make them realize that there is nothing scary behind the words HIV and AIDS.

Voldemort is the name of "You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named". However HIV is not Voldemort and the other epithets. It is JUST another chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension which are manageable with proper treatment and proper attitude. Let us openly verbalize it. Let us talk about it in the open. Speak it out during conversations and eventually, we will realize that there is nothing to be scared about behind the 'magic' letters. Let us help our loved ones to be comfortable with the letters, with our diagnosis to educate them and make them aware that everything is ok.

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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