Talking about AIDS on YouTube

A few weeks ago, we talked about making videos – some for promoting innovations in public health and others for sharing personal experiences. We even watched a snippet from Justin’s video journal about his brother finding out he was HIV+.


AIDS is hard to talk about. It has this stigma that makes people feel embarrassed or ashamed, just for bringing it up. The brave people on YouTube, sharing their stories about life with HIV/AIDS, are basically telling the world, “I am more than my status and it’s okay to talk about it.”

AIDS has had a major impact on my family life, and I’ve been told not to talk about it. I got involved with FACE AIDS, partially and originally to cope with feelings of being sushed. I started having conversations about AIDS and health as a human right, leaving out the part that someone close to me had gotten sick, not known why, not gotten better, and died from AIDS. People in my family told me he’d be humiliated if he could know what I was doing. Well, he shouldn’t have had to feel like that. No one should have to feel like that. Over the past few years and many conversations, AIDS has come to represent for me the whole larger movement for health as a human right because it disproportionately affects people living in marginalized situations, and their right to care should not be tainted by preconceived ideas about how they got sick in the first place. But, to have these conversations, for this to become the norm, we have to get over the idea that it’s not okay to talk about sexual health issues. These journal videos are helping people do that.

I thought I might share my own experience with the stigma of AIDS in a 3 minute video, but it’s harder than it looks. How can I explain? Is this story mine alone to share? Will it make people feel awkward? Will my family be mad? Will my professional network see it? What if I say the wrong thing or offend someone? Overcoming all these insecurities must be therapeutic for video journalers and viewers alike.