own status, and forget sometimes that

not everyone out there has had the

same experience—that many people

who are diagnosed aren’t able to process

it. They keep secrets. They suffer.

Only to be fed by a globally universal

fear and lack of understanding of HIV/


Enjoying this confidence can be dangerous.

Complacency is why we find

ourselves—in 2015!—with increasing

HIV infection rates in certain groups.

I’ve learnt that rather than becoming

complacent in my own shame-free

HIV-positive life, I must keep pushing

forward, using my numbness to, or ignorance

of, stigma for something bigger

than me. I guess I do it because

I’m not afraid. You’ll have to ask my

parents about that fearlessness, as it’s

been around far longer than I’ve been


#CHANGETHEFACE is an attempt to

make things better for “us” and start

conversations that might help remove

the stigma that absolutely still exists.

Us means other HIV-positive people.

Us means our families and friends. Us

means low-risk groups that normally

have few reasons to involve themselves

with the topic of HIV.

And why would I agree to have my

blood used to print this magazine? Because

holding my HIV in your hands

is… well, even I am a bit shocked by

the idea. Hopefully this act—a brave

one for some, a non-issue for others—

will create waves of conversation about

HIV that I could never achieve by myself.

I’m doing this because I believe positive

can be positive, and talking about

HIV is the only way we can get more

people to share that vision.

Wiltrut Stefanek


Wiltrut has been living with her

HIV-positive status for over twenty years.

After being diagnosed, she decided to

openly deal with her condition and, as

a result, founded the special interest

group PULSHIV (www.pulshiv.at). She

lives and works in Vienna and has a

24-year-old son.


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