September 11, 2012

ARTICLE IN FRONTIERS L.A. 6TH OF SEPT. 2012

This article was written for the american FRONTIERS L.A. and published 6th of September here:
 
 
 

RAISING YOUR VOICE CAN BE RAISING THE ODDS OF SUCCESS…
Convincing the population of a country and their politicians, that there is a link between how they treat a minority group as people living with HIV, their laws and all it symbols, is kind of a challenge. But with international help and among them some very experienced people from the US, things are slowly starting to move in a better direction here in Norway.
 
 
 
By Louis Gay

We have an old expression in Norway saying something about how a small bump sometimes can topple a big load. When I started raising my voice in public media November 30th 2011, I felt like a very small bump.

As a charged HIV-positive I would be the first one ever to do this and one of very few positive’s at all to argue back at the state in national media. Nordic countries have a long tradition in trusting the state to take care of us. This also applies when it comes to how we trust the law to prevent society from HIV. All responsibility lies with the one carrying the virus. Discloser does not protect you from the law, because we think it does not protect the society from HIV.

The loneliness changed in February 2012, during the UNAIDS conference in Oslo. I was invited to tell my story at a pre-conference working with the Oslo declaration at the time. In that room I met experts, activists and organizations from all over the world, working against HIV-crimanalization. People like your own Sean Strub and Robert Struttle from the Sero project, Edwin J. Bernard from HIV justice network and Professor Matthew Wait from England. Even people from the Nordic countries and Norway, was there fighting criminalization of HIV. I was not alone anymore.

Most of these people have included me in their networks and shared their experiences with me. Enlightened me and supported my fight in Norway. This summer Sero project and HIV justice network invited me to AIDS2012 in Washington to share my story among other Americans in the same position as myself. Lacking the money to participate they put me up with amazing people in Frontiers Media to get a free pass to the conference as a media representative. People to house me for free during the entire conference and of course the interviews and panel debate.

Like I said at the criminalization panel during the conference; “Success is a hard thing to measure.” What I do know is that slowly politicians are participating in the debate against HIV-criminalization in our national media. Now they dare to say my name and talk to me. Even I am facing trial in October. Media are contacting me to listen to my views on HIV-criminalization and stigma. The debate is full of different perspectives. Some less accurate than others, but there is now finally a debate. Even among people living with HIV, there are different views when it comes to criminalization. Skilled people like those I was so lucky to meet at the conference in Oslo and during AIDS2012 in Washington, must never stop recruiting and educating new members to this fight. Not all of us have the time and recourses to invent all the arguments and read all the science by ourselves. We have the power and will to stand up, but not to be alone for a very long time. It is simply too expensive on a personal level.

In a huge international community of people working for a better future for those living with HIV, I sometimes feel small and insignificant. But I am not, am I? Thru the privilege of being part of something bigger, people like me get a mirror which reflects and adjust the work we do.

There are so many ways to influence politics. Raising your voice can be one of them. But it is easier when you are not alone. Maybe, just maybe we are about to topple a big load?

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