Gossip. Who doesn't love hearing a juicy tidbit about a bar acquaintance? Of course, repeating the gossip is even more fun, right? But when does gossip cross the line? When does gossip stop being gossip and become invasion of privacy? I believe I have the answer to this question.
My name is Monique Marquette and I am not only an entertainer, I am an entertainer living with HIV. How this relates to the subjectat hand is simple. I have recently discovered that my status has become the subject of bar talk and I began to wonder about who has the right to discuss my HIV status. I then started to wonder who has the right to discuss ANYONE'S HIV status. Where does gossip about health status turn into invasion of privacy and who has the right to this private matter?
Those living with HIV are amazing! I say this not only because I happen to be one of those people, but because it's true. Aside from the physical effects, those with HIV deal with a lot of mental anguish. We deal with the scrutiny from those who do not have the disease and those who do not have any knowledge about it. We have to come to terms with the fact that we have the disease, that we need to take incredible care of ourselves, that we need to educate those who need educating, and a whole sum of other issues that come with this. While it is not a death sentence, it is not an easy road for anyone.
With that said, I have openly told you my status. What gives anyone else the right to discuss my status? A doctor legally cannot disclose my health to the general public and he has all my medical history. Yet an acquaintance at a bar has the right to openly tell people that I'm HIV?
There are consequences that you may not have thought about when discussing HIV status. If the information gets to the wrong person, it may destroy someone's life. What if an employeer finds out this information? While they cannot fire someone for any health reason, there have been cases in which the employer finds out that an employee is HIV+ and creates false offenses just as a means to fire that employee. We like to think that in 2007 people have become more educated and open-minded, but unfortunately not everyone is. It's sad, but it's true.
Another possibility is that discussion of someones status could get back to a family member. While my family knows about my status, another person's family may not. This information, if discovered, could be devastating to a family and could tear a family apart. When we are ready, we tell our families. We do not need our families finding out through the grapevine. Like I said, finding out from the HIV+ person directly is bad enough, but to hear it through gossip is devastating.
I'm sure I didn't say everything that needed to be said, but remember there is a line that shouldn't be crossed when you gossip. Whether you're a Fortune 500 CEO or a coat check girl, a person's health status, unless starting a relationship or having sex, is not your business to discuss. I 'outed' my status in hopes that I might educate and prevent others living with HIV from going through what I and countless people before me have experienced. Love me or hate me, but let your feelings for me be about me, not my status.
Love to all,