Planet AIDS Day 2020: Living And Thriving With HIV explores the lives of 4 folks who are living with HIV and preventing on the frontlines to educate and empower their communities. Whilst a lot of regions close to the place have observed declines in the distribute of HIV, the infection costs in Atlanta, continues to climb. Meet up with four neighborhood organizers and wellbeing activists who are working on the ground to improve that narrative starting with on their own.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t halted Michael Ward’s career and activism. More than the summer months, the 29-year-aged actor appeared in a digital examining of the critically acclaimed play “1 in two” by Donja R. Appreciate. It can be centered on the Center for Sickness Management and Avoidance’s projection that one particular in two Black gentlemen who have sex with other Black guys will be diagnosed with HIV in their life span. Ward is also the host of The Counter Narrative Project’s “Revolutionary Wellness” YouTube clearly show, speaking about a selection of subjects which include his psychological health and fitness struggles and his lifestyle considering the fact that being identified with HIV.

As our third HIV advocate, Michael Ward reveals how he stepped into this part of public activism following wanting to retain his individual diagnosis entirely non-public. 

Relevant: World AIDS Day 2020: Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga’s HIV Story

Linked: World AIDS Working day 2020: Jaquan Rich Is Dwelling And Thriving With HIV

I stepped in as the host of Groundbreaking Well being earlier this year. It truly is been this outstanding and interesting journey to be ready to talk about all items linked to Black men’s well being. We’ve spoken about intimacy during COVID-19. What does that search like? How do we secure ourselves by getting PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, a capsule that cuts down the threat of getting HIV) in the mail and on the web? We chat about intercourse toys. We’ve had physical tests. I have gotten a massage on air. We communicate about so lots of factors that have an affect on Black homosexual adult men and Black guys in basic. 

A single of the factors that we have talked about is criminal justice reform and decriminalization of HIV. They incorporate laws that do not seriously stick to science which can absolutely adjust your lifestyle. For case in point, how do you show that you have disclosed your HIV status to another person? A whole lot of moments, when it will come to these laws, it just more perpetuates stigma for people living with HIV to see them as almost form of a weapon or a menace to culture.

The reality is I was fearful to step into this job. When I was first identified at 19, I knew no one living with HIV. My very first believed was that I was likely to die. I didn’t know that there was these a thing as getting undetectable. I felt like no person recognized me. I felt disgrace. I felt like I should have acknowledged much better. I felt like I experienced failed myself and my dad and mom.

Similar: HIV 101: What is the Change Concerning HIV and AIDS?

I consider about younger men and women or even people today my age and older who are diagnosed. Somebody just claims you’re HIV-beneficial and sends you out into the environment. In that break up 2nd, your entire existence altered. There’s prior to the prognosis and then there’s after the prognosis. As a particular person living with HIV, I come to feel like I have a responsibility and a purpose because I have been there. Black gay men are so a lot far more than HIV. I know that is a major target, but we require to make sure that we’re all healthy. 

The flipside that’s nuts is, even now, there is PrEP stigma. There’s this narrative that people on PrEP have riskier sexual intercourse or just want to have all of this condomless intercourse. I honestly do not know how we get to that area exactly where we can say this is no extended stigmatized.


Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta-centered amusement and society reporter who has written for publications this kind of as Teenager Vogue, GQ, NPR New music and Atlanta magazine


This write-up has been edited and condensed for clarity.