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MARCH 2, 2010   

I might be HIV Positive

Person wearing a red HIV Positive shirtBut thankfully, I'm not. Later this month, though, people will wonder. For one day I'll be wearing a bright red T-shirt that says HIV POSITIVE. I'll be wearing it in part because of a movie I watched last night called Paper Clips.

Here's the connection: in the movie, kids in a small Tennessee town learn about the Holocaust and decide to collect six million paperclips to symbolize the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. It takes several years, but they are successful beyond their wildest dreams. In the process both adults and childrens' lives are transformed as they confront their own prejudice.

One of the many touching scenes involves elderly Holocaust survivors telling their stories to town residents brought together by the kids. One survivor talks about having to wear the yellow Star of David, which singled Jews out for persecution by their countrymen and neighbors.

Somehow that image stuck with me. Today, when I read on Facebook:

Help Fight HIV Stigma in Cleveland — Wear "The Tee-Shirt" for a Day
Join us on Friday, March 26, 2010 as hundreds of people across NE Ohio wear this t-shirt, all day, out in the world, to make a statement about stigma, silence, and "standing with" people impacted by HIV/AIDS. We’re recruiting people from all walks of life to join us.

...it all clicked. I can do this. I should do this. I will do this.

I expect that wearing the shirt will feel awkward. People may look at me funny, maybe try to avoid me. I could, of course. How would they know? How will I react? I'm used to being mostly invisible, not standing out from the crowd. I kind of like that.

Part of this social experiment is for participants to share their experiences and reactions via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I'll probably do all three. I'm looking forward to it with a bit of anxiety, I'll admit.

Join in?

Facebook: Help Fight HIV Stigma in Cleveland — Wear "The Tee-Shirt" for a Day

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MARCH 2010