Family

A Florida politician just released a powerful and honest statement about life with HIV.

Bob Poe hopes his video will help fight the stigma that surrounds HIV.

A Florida politician just released a powerful and honest statement about life with HIV.

A few weeks ago, congressional candidate Bob Poe ran into a woman named Linda, who shared with him that she'd been recently diagnosed with HIV.

Poe says he wanted to hug her when she told him the news. She was (quite understandably) scared. In her mind, her life was over.

Poe did what he could to comfort her, helping her access resources and support. But Poe also related to her fear because he had his own secret: Like Linda, Poe is HIV-positive.

Poe was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, and he says he was still filled with fear-fueled shame when she approached him. In the moment, he wanted nothing more than to be able to hug her and offer her the knowledge that she wasn't alone in her fight, but he says he couldn't. He was scared.


There he was, trying to comfort a woman, knowing that he couldn't offer her the one thing he knew would help: reassurance that she's not alone.

This brings us to June 9, 2016, the day that Poe went from having only shared his diagnosis with a few family members to sharing it openly with thousands of people.

Poe released a video explaining his diagnosis. He started by assuring everyone that although he has HIV, he's perfectly healthy (phew!). With treatment, he can lead a normal life.

He explained why he was sharing his 18-year secret, telling the story of Linda and what her openness inspired him to do. He knew that if he wanted to help reduce the stigma that surrounds HIV, he needed to — as he says in the video — "be the difference."

For Poe, fighting the stigma surrounding HIV is more than just reassuring people like Linda that they'll be OK too — it serves as a public health service as well.

Stigma often keeps people from getting tested for HIV in the first place, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates there are more than 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. Of those, more than 150,000 people don't even know they have it.

And when you don't know you have the virus, you can't get treatment for it, and you're at risk of spreading it to others unknowingly.

The World Health Organization has found that stigma is actually one of the primary reasons people avoid getting tested. And when fewer people get tested, more people might unknowingly transmit the virus to others.

HIV and AIDS don't need to be the death sentences they once were, and as long as you treat them, they're usually not.

In the 1980s, the idea of contracting HIV was many people's greatest fear. Health issues were scary, but there was also an intense fear about the stereotypes of who gets HIV. For many years, people assumed if you had HIV, you must be gay or an IV drug user. And while certain groups are certainly at higher risk for acquiring the virus than others, no group is immune from it.

Luckily, in recent decades, treatment of HIV has improved to the point where people with the virus, like Poe. can lead normal lives.

By opening up about his diagnosis, Bob Poe is saving lives and helping people reimagine the stereotypes of what it looks like to have HIV.

In some capacity, on some issue, we all have the power to do this too.

You may not be HIV-positive. But you are, however, a person with a lifetime of experiences — both good and bad. Your words and your actions, based on those experiences, carry with them the power to help others when they need it most. Your words and actions can help people feel less alone.

In our lives, we all have a Linda. Think about who's yours and how you can help her!

You can watch Bob Poe's powerful, heartfelt announcement below.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less
@frajds / Twitter

Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

Keep Reading Show less