HIV/AIDS Service Organizations – Do They Matter Today? A Personal Perspective — 

My name is David Anderson. I tested positive for HIV in 2009, and I’ve been active in the HIV community since 2003.  I am currently an HIV Educator with Minnesota AIDS Project and a Membership Advisor at Aliveness Project.

Clare Housing asked me to share with you how AIDS service organizations or ASOs have impacted me personally, as well as the broader community. In a nutshell, they’ve helped me become the person, and the activist I am today.

Organizations like Clare Housing and the Minnesota AIDS Project aren’t in it for the money. They’re in it for the passion. I have learned more about passion working with nonprofits like these than anywhere else. I believe that passion has brought me on the journey to where and who I am now.

As HIV treatments have improved, how organizations like Clare Housing direct that passion has  changed. HIV is not the death sentence that it used to be. Nonetheless, I believe that having HIV organizations and support groups is still very important. There remains a lot of stigma that one with HIV often encounters based on one’s status.

Organizations and support groups help a person with HIV financially, socially, spiritually, physically, and medically. In my experience, I find that many people who are newly diagnosed do not know about these places and groups.

This lack of awareness is an unfortunate reality, as I don’t just think people with HIV still experience stigma. I know they do. I hear stories almost every day about people facing stigma, whether it’s the rejection of friends, family or even losing a job.

There are still a lot of people who do not know much about HIV and have wrong information about how it is transferred. I think the wrong information is the bigger problem than not enough information. For example, I still get asked by people if HIV is transmitted by toilets or hugging. I still often overhear conversations about how people think of those with HIV as being dirty or irresponsible.

Will we ever end the HIV epidemic? That’s unclear. If we do I know that organizations like Clare Housing will play an important role in making that happen. In the meantime, I firmly believe knowledge is more important than a cure. Getting accurate knowledge about HIV out there is everyone’s responsibility, and I am for one glad to have AIDS service organizations like those in the Twin Cities at the forefront of those efforts.

About David

David Anderson  tested positive in 2009. He’s been active in the HIV community since 2003.  David is currently an HIV Educator with Minnesota AIDS Project and a Membership Advisor at Aliveness Project. Within Minnesota AIDS Project, he served as a Positive Leader during the 2013-2014 term.

During that time, David founded and led the HIV & Cosmetology Committee. This brought more in-depth HIV education to Minnesota cosmetology schools, licensees, and the career field.  Also, as a Positive Leader, he has had the pleasure of helping pass Minnesota laws regarding HIV.