AIDS activists re­act

Three Toronto so­cial work­ers talked about what they hope peo­ple will take away from the Sheen’s HIV-Pos­i­tive re­veal.

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO LIFE - TORSTAR NEWS SER­VICE

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...prac­tice what you tweet “Peo­ple are much more will­ing to talk about HIV and show com­pas­sion and that’s in­cred­i­ble,” says Mur­ray Jose-Bo­er­bridge, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Toronto Peo­ple with AIDS Foun­da­tion. “The next hur­dle there is to ac­tu­ally take that to ac­tion.” ...start treat­ment right away “What we’re hear­ing in the re­search is it’s really im­por­tant to start your treat­ment right away when you find out,” says Jo­ce­lyn Watchorn, the AIDS Com­mit­tee of Toronto’s di­rec­tor of sup­port ser­vices. ...dis­close to your chil­dren at your own pace Sheen spoke about com­ing clean to his 31-year-old daugh­ter Cas­san­dra. “It’s help­ful when the par­ents them­selves have done a lot of work in terms of their own ac­cep­tance of HIV,” says Nicci Stein, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Teresa Group, which ad­vo­cates for chil­dren and fam­i­lies af­fected by HIV and AIDS.

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...talk about HIV like it’s a karmic pun­ish­ment “Peo­ple al­ways think, ‘I’m not that kind of per­son, there­fore I’m fine’,” Stein says. “There’s such a wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple who are liv­ing with HIV through all sorts of cir­cum­stances.” ...as­sume Sheen rep­re­sents all Hiv-pos­i­tive peo­ple “I’d hate to see dis­cus­sion or re­sources move to fol­low the trend of a star. The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV con­tinue to be gay men or other in­di­vid­u­als who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing so­ci­etal gaps,” says Jose-Bo­er­bridge. ...un­der­es­ti­mate the value of a celebrity ally “He has the ca­pac­ity and he cer­tainly has the fol­low­ing to ac­tu­ally raise provoca­tive con­ver­sa­tion,” Jose-Bo­er­bridge says. “To ac­tu­ally chal­lenge peo­ple to really think.”

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