Politician gives HIV a positive face
Did you hear? He's got a House In Virginia.
Back in the day, people with HIV had to use codes or slang to talk about their positive status. It was a source of shame and failure. Back in the day, people died in months and weeks. But today, things are different.
Philadelphia and RENT changed the way we saw HIV. They gave the disease a face, emotions, thoughts, feelings and heart. We saw people we loved die before our very eyes.
But in a celebrated departure from the '80s, HIV is no longer a death sentence, and it's even become a story line — but not an eyeroll worthy trope — on major television programs, Looking on HBO, for example. Characters with HIV are no longer defined by their disease, but allow it to influence their overall being.
According to AIDS.gov, one in four new HIV infections is in the 13 to 24 age group. College students are smack in the middle of that.
But in the modern era, and to really show young people who never had to watch their friends, lover and family members die the reality of the disease, HIV needed to move away from fiction and into reality. One British Parliament candidate has done just that.
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is Britain's first HIV-positive parliamentary candidate and recently shared with BuzzFeed the admittedly dark and emotional story of how he became HIV-positive and how he found strength in love.
That strength, according to the article, is what moved him to fight against the stigma of HIV and STIs.
Hyyrylainen-Trett is doing more than simply running for office or proudly wearing his red ribbon. He's doing the HIV-positive community a favor in showing the world, especially the elite, that HIV-positive citizens aren't meth heads on rampantly promiscuous bed hoppers. They're people with real, human struggles and real, human feelings and experiences.
Hyyrylainen-Trett is making strides for the HIV-positive community in ways television characters cannot. Just as Harvey Milk revolutionized politics for the LGBT community, Hyyrylainen-Trett is doing the same thing for HIV-positive citizens.
Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at AdamR@CentralFloridaFuture.com.