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Stigma Warrior: Meet Karl

In honor of World AIDS Day, December's Stigma Warrior is Karl Schmid

"My name is Karl, I am a television host, correspondent and most importantly an HIV activist.

HIV doesn’t have to kill you, but stigma absolutely will. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s so important to stand up to stigma and to help fight discrimination. Stigma is literally costing us precious lives. Stigma and outdated information is what stops people from getting tested, going on treatment and becoming undetectable. We also need to stand up to discrimination because for too long too many people who are not white and privileged (like myself) are being denied the most basic rights in this country and the access to the amazing life saving drugs that keep our HIV at an undetectable level.

I fight stigma in my own life by talking about HIV and sharing the facts about what it means to live with HIV in this day and age whenever I get the chance to. It’s why I created Plus Life Media (@pluslifemedia). Having that platform as well as the platform and voice I’m given on television with ABC, I am able to show people that HIV is not some scary grim reaper who is coming to get you. I have the opportunity to show people that just because I’m living with HIV, I am as capable as anyone else of loving, laughing, learning and succeeding in life..

Sadly, HIV stigma seems at its strongest amongst the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in cities like West Hollywood and New York. There is a whole generation now of young adults and gay men in their early 40’s who were children when the AIDS crisis was at its worst. We were warned about HIV/AIDS in the most terrifying and graphic ways on television and in the print media and by our parents when we were at such an impressionable age. Sadly, many of these people haven’t been exposed to the proper education and advancements when it comes to HIV since those days.

My advice to people who are facing stigma and discrimination is arm yourself with the facts. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better equipped you are at being able to educate others who don’t know better. Having that confidence within yourself because of the facts and the science is a great way brush off the stigma and discrimination and to inform and educate."