Jordan Edwards identifies as a sexually fluid person, and has been living with HIV for many years. After battling the fear and stigma that came with his initial diagnosis, Edwards learned not only to empower himself but to help others. Now the center director of the Normal Anomaly Initiative in Houston, he works to raise awareness and end the stigmas around getting tests and treatment for HIV.
Help keep VICE News’ fearless reporting free for millions by making a one-time or ongoing contribution here. - vice.com/contribute
Subscribe to VICE News here: bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News
Check out VICE News for more: vicenews.com
Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network: www.fb.com/vicevideo
Not true that it's a gay man's disease.
And the reason why I want to say that is because anyone can contract HIV black women can white women can cisgender people non-binary people, trans.
People can contract HIV.
So the focus the marketing around just gay black.
Men is a disservice that's.
Why HIV is still the status that it is it's still a stigma around it that it is.
My name is Jordan.
Am the center director of the normal anomaly initiative and we're focused on serving the most marginalized Community, which are those in the intersections of black and queer.
What I do is I focus on our Direct Services.
So those are our employment services, transportation services and also's advocacy program that we have called Power, which is positive organizing wellness and resilience and that's for individuals who are living with HIV and it's led by someone who is HIV positive, which is myself as far as when I started having sex with men.
My mother one I like this answer, but I'm, having sex with men for a very long time.
Before she talked about conducts with me, I had been having sex with men.
So I was having sex with men and women at the time.
And then now I identify sexually fluids.
So I moved away and went to Virginia for a couple of years, um to get closer to my grandfather and my family up there and I met this guy.
So here we have the pictures from my Festival area.
And we also have our thrift store here.
So about thrift store.
This is our community corner where we have individuals who provide donations.
And then we take that and put that back into our Direct Services and I decided that you know what I want to, you know, explore this I want to uh, see what that's like let me actually date.
Let me actually try to have a relationship.
And in that process, that's the individual who the first guy tried to actually have a relationship with is that each individual who actually contracted HIV from.
We also have our lab area, which we were doing phlebotomy here in this chair.
And we have our items where people come in get their blood drawn.
You know, sit in a chair and pop and give us their blood and things like that, the local County Health worker came out to my home and spoke to my mother and told her that he needs to speak to Jordan it's, a matter of medical emergency.
And when I went into the actual facility after getting my status, I was sent over to the same person, and he sat down.
And when I came into the room, he sat back in his chair, pushed back a little bit and said that, well, um, you received your status.
And you know, like so here's a few things you need to know, don't share shaving tools, don't share toothbrushes don't share toilets when you use public toilets, make sure you wipe them off.
He didn't want to touch the pins that I used.
He actually pulls up out of a pack and pulled it out and gave it to me.
There was a lot of stigmatizing actions that he did that made me feel oppressed.
And it made me feel pressured and scared, even more than I was.
So we had our first black queer, which is Houston and Texas's first, black queer, uh, music festival.
This is some of the Flyers that we had out on the walls.
And we also have the photos from the actual Festival along the walls here as well.
So with this Festival, we were able to service 1500, people actually coming into the center as well.
And so with that I took and left from the office with a little brown bag of medication that they gave me and I went out to the parking lot and I cried, um.
And then I was like.
I'm gonna go to the park and attractive went all the way around it and I got out the car and I just started running and I just ran until literally my legs came out because I, literally at that point had nothing I had nothing to offer I had nothing to give nothing to hope for.
So I went from there thinking that I'm not going to make it another year, that's not possible.
If I don't have the will to live if I'm not really maybe not healthy enough to live, how can I move forward, even though we have condoms here on the table, it's for individuals.
We don't want to force upon individuals to actually use condoms.
If you decide that's something that you want to use, and you use it if you don't want to use it, we do have other options and other conversations around it as well.
This is what we do I actually told my family about my HIV status, first before my sexuality.
So with my actual HIV status, I told my mother first and I go in.
And she sit in a chair and I said, I have something to tell you and I'm already crying I'm, just like tears, coming out my eyes.
And she was like what's going on and I was like well, when the guy came to the house and said that it was about a medical emergency, what he was coming to talk to about I'm actually like living with HIV, and she took a deep breath in, and she kind of like teared up and cried a little bit.
She saw my baby, and she grabbed me, and she held me, and she said, it's gonna be okay, Mama's here for you.
And that was not the response I was expecting not that my mother's, not loving it's, just that the Fear Factor around.
What is it that you're going to receive when somebody finds out you live with HIV? So I had to go back to the Health Care system and I finally, met an individual who was a community health worker who was caring who was loving, um, it was a sister and a white woman.
And she sat down with me, and she talked with me.
And then she introduced me to someone else who was assistant a black female.
She said, you need to understand that.
This is something that you're living with, but it does not control your life.
We can live with diabetes and not have a problem.
We can live with high blood pressure and not have a problem.
We can talk about thyroidism leukemia.
We can talk about different types of cancers and it's like praise that you're doing well and you're taking care of yourself.
But when someone says you have HIV the stigma around sex, the stigma around understanding that it's something that is a sexually transmitted disease, that's, something that causes individuals to feel concerned, or we still can't be open and liberated around sex, even though individuals are having it whether they be with themselves or plenty other people.
But we can't be liberated and talk about that that's, the scary piece, that's, what causes the stigma because the force of trying to not talk about certain things in certain spaces.
If it's a Health crisis, it's, a Health crisis, let's, take care of the health of the person.
Preferred word or phrase:
HIV-positive people/person, People/person with HIV, People/ person with AIDS Why: Some people with HIV feel that these terms imply that they are powerless, with no control over their lives.
The first step after testing positive for HIV is to see a health care provider, even if you do not feel sick. Prompt medical care and treatment with HIV medicines as soon as possible is the best way to stay healthy.
It's important to disclose your HIV status to your sex partner(s) and anyone you shared needles with, even if you are not comfortable doing it. Communicating with each other about your HIV status means you can take steps to keep both of you healthy.How do you tell someone you love that you are HIV positive? ›
Be straightforward and specific. Tell the person that you have HIV instead of saying that you have a chronic disease or virus, Lightfoot says. Then spell out what you want from the person, such as, “I need someone that I can talk to and loves me no matter what, and I hope that person is you.