“When I found out at 14 that I was HIV-positive, I didn’t think I would live to see 18, I am turning 22 this year.” Since Saidy Brown tweeted those words on Friday, thousands of people have re-shared her hopeful message, with many praising her courage for speaking publicly about her own experience with the virus.
Activist Saidy, who describes herself as an HIVictor in her Twitter bio, has been speaking to the BBC about the extraordinary reaction to her post, why it took so long for her to be diagnosed and the challenges of dating for someone who is HIV-positive.
“I’ve always disclosed my status. I started disclosing it when I was 18. I usually use Facebook to talk to people about HIV and Aids,” she says.
“But I’ve been having this urgent feeling to post it on Twitter, so it wouldn’t be just limited to my Facebook friends. I needed the world to get into conversations about this virus.”
Getting a conversation going
“The response has been very great. I’ve had people who’ve come to me and told me their own stories. And I like that.
“I like sparking conversations about HIV. I don’t believe in treating it like it’s an unspoken subject. I want us to talk about it, because once we talk about it more, then we can de-stigmatise it.
“There are people who are naysayers, but I don’t even reply. I just leave them.