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Blogging Positively: Join the Global Conversation on HIV/AIDS

This Valentine's Day (February 14) marks not only the start of a Global Voices campaign asking people to “Teach Someone You Love to Blog or Micro-Blog,” it also kicks off a series of health-related activities focused on HIV/AIDS to encourage more people infected and affected by the disease to blog.

More than 33 million people live with HIV, and at least 2 million have died of AIDS in the past year. Blogs from around the world are putting stories to these statistics, though, sharing insights on living with the disease, caring for someone with HIV/AIDS, and experiences with stigma and discrimination. These blogs have helped provide firsthand accounts of the disease's impact globally.

As part of an ongoing discussion on the issue of blogging to address HIV/AIDS issues, Global Voices and Rising Voices will be hosting a live online “Blogging Positively” chat for bloggers and activists on February 27, 2009. The chat will be facilitated by Kenyan bloggers Serina Kalande and Daudi Were. Everyone is welcome.

Local Times: New York 09:00 | Buenos Aires 12:00 | London 14:00 | Johannesburg, Beirut 16:00 | Nairobi, Moscow 17:00 | New Delhi 19:30 | Hong Kong 22:00 | Tokyo 23:00

Chatroom: http://www.worknets.org/chat/. Login using your name and then select the room you want to join by clicking enter. Once in the room, select a font color on the left side of the screen and join the chat.

Mapping the Voices
Global Voices also launched an embeddable Google map of HIV-positive bloggers and caretakers, and other citizen media related to HIV/AIDS last December as part of World AIDS Day. The map, which is continuously being updated, highlights the brave people who are already blogging about this disease. One such blogger is Maureen Akinyi in Nakuru, Kenya. She says that blogging anonymously about having HIV/AIDS doesn't help reduce the discrimination around the disease, and that people need to blog positively without fear. In this post she talks about how participating in a beauty contest can help fight the stigma around HIV:

“I was one of the contestants of the Mr. and Miss Red Ribbon 2008 event at Hotel Bontana Nakuru; it was not my first time to contest. I have been contesting since 2006 and have been enjoying every moment of the event because of one thing, effective reduction of stigma and discrimination. Mr. and Miss Red Ribbon brings together both affected and infected to celebrate beauty in a unique way. During the event audience appreciate beauty by seeing models but not the affected or the infected.”

ukguy lives in the United Kingdom and has been living with HIV since the 1980s. He writes about his experiences being a dyslexic, HIV-positive, gay man on his blog The ramblings. In this recent post he talks about how bringing up headaches and a potential eye infection during a doctor's visit made him feel bad.

“As I left the clinic I realized that I was not very happy with the outcome of this consultation. Of course I am very pleased that there is no infection. But I was left feeling that yet again I seemed to be making a fuss over nothing. I often feel that my concerns are not always taken on board, my HIV doctor is very good and I know that he is interested in my health.

Maybe its me, maybe I am the one that needs to get a grip?

I guess the longer you live with HIV, it does not always mean that you worry less.”

Pinoy Poz, who lives in the Philippines, came out about being gay at the age of 21, but nine years later went “back in the closet” after finding out he was HIV positive. Despite that, in this post he reflects on all the ways he feels lucky.

“With the Chinese New Year ushering in the Year of the Ox, everyone’s been talking about luck. And from all the features I’ve watched, 2009 should actually be a lucky year for me, being born in the Year of the Horse. But I believe my good luck started last year, when I found out I was HIV-positive.

You know that I’ve always regarded myself as lucky despite the fact that I’m now HIV-positive. I’m lucky that it isn’t some other more severely debilitating disease that I have. I’m lucky that I found out relatively early on that I had it, and still wasn’t manifesting any symptoms. I’m lucky that I had a pretty decent CD4 count to begin with. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten through the challenges of starting on ARVs [antiretroviral drugs]. I’m lucky that I’ve made the choices to get to where I am now. I’m lucky to have encountered the greatest people along my HIV journey.”

These are just some of the amazing voices featured on the Blogging Positively map. To encourage other people to share their HIV/AIDS stories, Global Voices is creating a “Blogging Positively Guide,” which will provide valuable advice on how to blog about HIV/AIDS issues. We are looking for help to create the Guide and/or to give feedback, so those interested in or already blogging about the pandemic are encouraged to participate, particularly those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Please contact me or Janet Feldman for more information on the Blogging Positively Guide, chat, or map.

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