Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Audio interview with Masias Cowper on forming relationships when living with HIV

Masias Cowper who’s been HIV positive for 13 years discusses her status and the problems of disclosure that continue to exist and the forming of new relationships. She talks about disclosing her status to her family which she describes as "the worst thing ever". It took her 6 months and when she did disclose to her partner the reaction was violent and negative even though it was he who was the source of the infection. Slowly she began to come out to her family and her workplace despite being fired from her job. "five years after my diagnosis was five years of recovery" - recovering her rights as a woman, to love, to be reproductive, to be respected, to be in a relationship, have a job, participate in her community.

Lisa Power of UK's Terrence Higgins Trust points out that for anyone with a a long term illness, building a new relationship is extremely difficult. People do not or are not able to deal with the long term illnesses of others. Often they are just not prepared to make the necessary effort to learn about that illness whether it be cancer or parkinsons. HIV is particularly difficult because of the stigma attacked to the illness which is largely based on ignorance as "public understanding lags behind the reality".

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