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HIV: Personal Activism (Presentation for THT Activism and Involvement Workshop)

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Presentation delivered in Manchester as part of Terrance Higgins Trust's MyHIV Activism & Involvement Workshop on 07.06.2014

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HIV: Personal Activism (Presentation for THT Activism and Involvement Workshop)

  1. 1. Personal Activism
  2. 2. Alex Sparrowhawk: HIV & Me  29, living in Manchester for almost 8 years  Diagnosed HIV+ November 2009 with Viral Load 79,000 and CD4 213 – started meds immediately  Joined the MyHIV Community Forums November 2011  On the 3rd anniversary of my diagnosis I ‘came out’ HIV+ on Facebook and Twitter  Living well with HIV – UD since early 2010, present CD4 582
  3. 3. What is Activism? Activism : the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change Activism isn’t limited to physical actions, such as protest, boycotts or political campaigning.. ..it can be creative, utilising art and performance BUT all forms of activism need to target a specific audience and raise awareness with those who have the power to bring about change
  4. 4. An Activist is anyone who makes effort to promote, impede or direct change in social and political environments – are you an activist? What makes an Activist?
  5. 5. Personal Activism and HIV PLHIV face a number of issues, from accessing adequate health care to stigma from society, HIV charities and organisations attempt to tackle these concerns on a daily basis – so why do we need Personal Activists?  To put a ‘human face’ to the story that people can relate to – rather than talking about statistics  To make a change in our communities, offices, colleges, etc. – we can’t change the World in a day but we can make a start with those around us  To demonstrate how life with the virus can be normal – People who choose to be visible prove that HIV isn’t something to be afraid of
  6. 6. Why be a HIV Activist? “I want HIV to be eradicated. If individuals are empowered to own skills to prevent HIV, those living with it would live productively and many others would stay negative.” Dr Tom Muyunga Mukasa (San Francisco, USA) “I travelled long hours in silence and in the darkest places where I had wanted to shout "Can someone hear me?" Some how HIV took my pride and the only way to claim that was to come out of the closet - a place of shame. Living Positively accepting that I am not HIV but a woman living positively among others. A healthy beautiful feeling” Sophie Jayawardene (Auckland, New Zealand)
  7. 7. Alex the Activist
  8. 8. Blogging Keeping a blog is a simple way of raising awareness about HIV  Keep it personal, your experiences and opinions - but link to topical subjects that are interesting to increase your exposure and audience  Write enough to engage with your audience but not too much that they get bored half way through – blogging weekly/fortnightly is the best way to encourage regular readership  Avoid repeating yourself, and don’t say something for the sake of it – it’s much better to take a break than rehash an old piece  Think outside the box and mix it up - make a video, create a poster or ask a guest writer to produce something for you
  9. 9. Twitter The fantastic thing about Twitter and HIV activism is the ability to remain anonymous if you feel you need to - it also provides a worldwide audience and an amazing platform to deliver your message from  Keep up with news and events and promote your blog or activities  Meet people in the same situation and share ideas  Network and find contacts in the media, charities and organisations who can re- tweet your work and help you to get more exposure  Protest and allow your voice to be heard by utilising hashtags etc.
  10. 10. Speaking with the media is a great way to raise awareness about HIV  Add yourself to HIV charity/ organisation media contact lists  Don’t be disheartened if journalists cancel – editors are renowned for changing their minds last minute, especially if a ‘juicy’ story falls on their desk  They WILL edit stories, film and interviews – you won’t always get the chance to review an article before it goes to press, or see a documentary before it hits TV screens – think carefully before agreeing to anything!  Be prepared – these opportunities often come in last minute but always make sure you know how you want to tell your story The Media
  11. 11. Your Talents and Activism Hate social media? Concerned with speaking to a journalist or terrible at stringing a sentence together? No worries – think about your own talents, what are you good at?
  12. 12. Top Tips There’s no rules to Personal Activism but these guidelines will make it easier to reach your goals when raising awareness about HIV!  Make friends, not enemies – we don’t all have to agree on everything 100% of the time: avoid badgering people into situations and preaching to them  Value and respect each other – not all activists support all HIV initiatives, this doesn’t mean we can’t support each other in areas we do agree on  Define yourself by what you are fighting for, not what you aren’t  Set goals and priorities and keep focused, persevere – we’re not going to win this fight overnight, it’s a long haul  TAKE A BREAK! - battling the virus is tough, being an activist can be tougher!!
  13. 13. Resources and Contact Information Blog: www.alexsparrowhawk.com Twitter: @birdy_tweet (Alex: HIV & Me) Email: info@alexsparrowhawk.com Join the HIV Activists Network: HIVactivist@nat.org.uk MyHIV Community Forums: www.myhiv.org.uk

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