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The influencers: Ruan Uys
Since being diagnosed HIV-positive four years ago, Ruan Uys has worked to educate communities about the modern reality of living with HIV. Through education, Ruan hopes to counteract the stigma that still accompanies a positive status.
To help support other positive people, Ruan founded a HIV community group called the Hivsters. The Hivsters encourage people living with HIV to come together and celebrate the upside of being positive. “We have much to be thankful for,” reads the Hivsters’ website. “We are fortunate to live in an era where modern HIV treatments enable us to live normal, long and rich lives.” Hivsters encourage their peers to celebrate life after treatment and to live well with HIV.
With that aim in mind, in 2016, Ruan featured in a national awareness campaign extolling the benefits of treatment and the importance of maintaining overall good health. That same year, Ruan and other Hivsters embarked on a 180-km trek across regional Victoria and South Australia. The trek was inspired by the need to tackle stigma and to educate people about HIV. And this July — to coincide with AIDS 2018 — Ruan will walk from Brussels to Amsterdam in eight days to raise awareness about the barriers to treatment faced by many PLHIV worldwide.
The Melbourne-based activist urges all positive people to help raise awareness themselves — particularly about the science behind U=U. “We need PLHIV educating their immediate circles/families/friends. Only that will bring about real change. U=U — let’s talk about it.”