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GRID, what in the world is GRID, not many people know that this is what HIV was

called before 1986


In 1982 GRID was the most feared disease, (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), Drs
were franticly looking for ways to understand why seemingly healthy gay men all of a
sudden got a very rare cancer, and most of them died.
The Term AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was proposed later in
1982. The Term HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) was only accepted in 1986.
The reason for all of these changes was quite simple; it was not just affecting the
LGBTQ community but everyone.
In SA 1 in 10 people are infected with HIV. This is a very sad statistic as it means that
we are not doing enough to curb the spread of this disease. Funny enough the highest
infection rate in SA are young teen to twenty odd females almost three times higher
than that of males in the same age group. There are many reasons for this, for
instance corrective rape, rape in general, blessers the list goes on and on.
What we need to realise is that we can make a difference; we need to break the stigma
and stand together. If I had cancer or was a diabetic would I be stigmatised, would
people look at me funny and hide their disgust as I walked passed. NO, then why do
we have to stigmatise HIV?
Who here have heard the rumours or seen the photos or news articles that was doing
the rounds from a banana that was injected with supposed HIV infected blood to HIV
infected blood that was in the tomato sauce at some or the other chain take away?
Well I am going to tell you now, that its BUSTED. The HIV virus cannot live outside
the human body.
You cannot get infected with a kiss, or sharing the same toilet, shower, or eating
utensils.
The Virus is in semen, vaginal fluid, urine, faeces, blood. The only way to transmit
the virus is through intercourse, blood transfusion and the sharing of used needles.
Now under the same instance I can also tell you that in the history there has never
been a reported case of woman to woman transfer of the virus, and if your viral load is
undetected within the first 6 weeks there is only a 2% chance of infecting a negative
person. This does not mean that you can have unprotected sex or use needles or what
the case may be, this only means that as a statistic the chance of infection is low, very
low.
We have all lost someone, we have all experienced pain and heartache, but have you
ever stopped and thought to yourself what your actions, comments and hatred is doing
to us that is living with this disease? We suffer on a daily basis, the hurtful stares, the
whispers that follows you like smoke on the water. We have loved and lost, we have
cared and supported our friends and family that has battled this disease. I lost my
husband to HIV but ultimately he had testicular cancer, the chemo could not stop the
spread as it wanted to attack the HIV virus and not the Cancer. From the day he was
diagnosed till the day he passed away on 5 May 2004 was exactly 2 years to the date.

I have never had any medical training except for first aid level one, but with my
husband I was his 24 hour nurse. Taking care of him, changing dressings, needles
preparing his morphine pump. I slept on the floor in front of his bed, if he needed me
I was there. I never left his side. The day he passed away, was a day that I do not
wish on anybody, not an enemy nor a friend, you see I died in my arms, he took his
last breath while I was holding him, telling him that it was ok for him to go. You do
not get over something like this. I do not care who you are, it hurts and it hurts like
hell. A week later I walked into a salon to fetch my sister in-law and the hairdressers
turned to one another and whispered thats the widow of the guy who died of AIDS
Best part was that his status was neither public nor common knowledge. It hurt, the
way they looked at me, I turned around and told them that he passed away yes, but it
was cancer that killed him and stormed out of there, I could not contain the tears and
the hate that I was feeling against these people who dont even know me.
So as you can see stigma and uneducated people make our lives allot harder than what
is necessary. Even being a lesbian has its downfalls, do you think for one minute that
I would choose this live, that I would choose to be different, that I would choose to be
ostracised? I knew from a young age that I was different, I liked girls, ALOT. Now
take being a lesbian and HIV positive at the same time and try to walk in my shoes for
just one day. If I did to you what you are doing to me you would hate me. However I
do not hate, I understand, the fear the uncertainty that most people experience. The
worst is when you meet new people with small children; they automatically think that
you are some sort of paedophile or child abuser. Come on people I like woman, not
your small child or teenage daughter.
My story was published by news 24 even though it is just a small portion of the
biggest events in my life it tells a tale of suffering, hardship and how I have overcome
all of that. I am Stephanie van Niekerk, I am me! I am a lesbian and a long term HIV
survivor.