Yesterday I was working on a film set with a bunch of other Artists. While getting my hair and makeup done, one of the Artists beside me began discussing the topic of HIV. Specifically she spoke about how she had recently learned of her fellow Artist friends that were HIV positive. Awkwardly she said, she had not learned of their status from these people themselves but rather from mutual friends. This she said, left her in a rather uncomfortable situation of knowing but not being able to say anything. This is interesting to me! Firstly, given the stigma and fear related to HIV I must just say that, it is not ok to disclose the status of someone else as a third party, unless given permission from the actual person!!! If you are selfish enough to be one of these people, I question you ability to reflect in the impact of your actions.
Gossip is however something that cannot be avoided or stopped. It is a natural part of human interaction and living. In South Africa gossip (or skinner as we call it) about being HIV positive should be expected. What is interesting to me, are the reactions many of us have when we hear the status of others. Like my friend yesterday, notes that se now felt awkward around these people…
Of course I could say, well what does it matter whether your friends are HIV positive or not? Unless your sleeping with them, or planning on becoming blood brothers, their status shouldn’t make a difference. My question then, is why does it make a difference and why does it even matter? Why does it make us feel uncomfortable?