Roberto J. Olivo, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
After more than two decades of fighting HIV discrimination, substandard HIV care for people of color, HIV related substance abuse, various types of HIV-addiction, HIV-related depression and anxiety, rejection from our society and others HIV-correlated ailments, my work in the HIV community is still unfinished. As Director of Programs at Minority AIDS Project my priority is to ensure that our agency provides care and prevention services to HIV-infected individuals and members of our community at high risk of contracting HIV with the highest quality possible. The progress made in the medical field for the treatment of HIV is more advanced than that of the progress our society has made in accepting HIV-infected individuals as people infected by an immune-system’s destroying virus. The taboo about HIV continues to destroy the psychological internal frame of the person infected with this virus as well as many members of our society that are poorly educated about HIV transmission and HIV treatment modalities. People still treat HIV-infected individuals with mistrust and are suspicious about possible point of contagion. Many HIV-infected individuals continue to be feed with disposable plates and cups at home and at family gatherings. They continue to endure moral judgments from members of our society about how they acquired HIV/AIDS. Many hospital staff continues to whisper about “the HIV-infected patient at room 3274” and warns other hospital staff about possible HIV contagion.
Many members of our society believe that HIV is no longer a concern for them, but in the community of color, HIV continues to be a daily threat, especially to women of color and youth. Current statistics show that, women of color (African American and Latino) are the highest individuals in our society infected by HIV followed by members of our youth community. Many HIV-infected individuals continue to struggle with digestive problems that affect the absorption of essential nutrients creating the “wasting phenomenon,” many individual continue to face neurological problems affecting their cognitive ability as well as causing great amounts of physical pain to their extremities making almost impossible for them to walk, others continue to attempt to cope with the emotional turmoil of their HIV infection by self-medicating with street drugs and alcohol and/or other forms of addiction. Some other individuals are simply rejected by members of our society when they disclose an HIV or AIDS diagnoses.
Have I completed my mission at Minority AIDS Project? I’ll allow you to answer…I will continue to welcome and assist any person infected by HIV/AIDS with any service they might require. The HIV fight continues and there is no final battle in sight but to help those in great needs or to have somebody to help them and accept them. The route of HIV transmission is not for me to judge, I lack the credentials to judge anybody about that issue. My mission continues to be clear and it parallels that of Minority AIDS Project “to Reduce Suffering and Deaths Due to HIV Infection and AIDS Disease in African American and Latino Communities by Making HIV/AIDS Education and Related Health Services Available and Accessible”. Once that project is complete, I’ll see what is there for me in the horizon!