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Episode Info: Butch McKay, of OASIS and the Positive Living Conference, joins the show today to talk about ways we can reduce stigma and set examples of creating a safe space in the community. Butch is a major force in the work with HIV, has stayed true to a promise he made to a dear friend that he will use every day as a way to help others that suffer. Butch also discusses how the Positive Living Conference started and continues to grow, the groups still most affected by HIV stigma and what we can do about it, and an inside look at how we need support in the legal system more than ever.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:26] Butch got involved in HIV work 32 about years ago, as a result of a promise he made to his best friend who was the first person he lost to the complications of AIDS. He became a clinic host, and with Dr. Michael Saag as his mentor, realized this was an area he wanted to spend his energy to help people. [7:30] Butch saw a need for education and services in the North Florida area, and decided to start the Positive Living Conference in 1997. He sought dynamic speakers to speak the science in layman's terms, and advocate Martin Delaney came (for way less money than his usual fee) to educate the audience so hungry for his knowledge. [11:16] This year was the largest attendance, with 457 people registered to attend. They have also had as high as 27 states represented in the past, with countries such as Canada and Mexico in the mix. 97% of the attendees are living with HIV and AIDS, and the others are experts or partners. They have also been known as a training ground for speakers, and are proud to be a safe space for people to speak their voice. [18:34] It is quite miraculous in the past decades of where we have come medically, but stigma is still a major problem. [19:16] One of the hardest groups still affected by stigma is heterosexual women. [22:30] Those affected with HIV unfortunately still experience unfair sentences in legal matters, along with bails too high for themselves or their families to afford. [25:54] The largest population of African Americans live in the south, and that is an area where stigma and religion play a role that leads to a large number of people being impacted with a lack of resources. [27:17] Butch would like to see more education and sensitivity in the community towards those with HIV, along with proper training for public defenders so they can better represent their clients.   RESOURCES: Dr. Michael Saag Positive Living Conference OASIS Project Inform The AIDS Memorial U=U   QUOTES: ● “We did a lot of things in those days, it was called survival.” ● “It’s so good to know that we have come so far and we have to think of the sacrifices of the people that gave everything, including their lives.” ● “Stigma is very real, but I do think a lot of it is internalized now.” ● “We can all play a part in educating those around us, and ourselves as well.”...
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