'F Stigma': New provocative campaign forces the conversation about HIV awareness

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- F Stigma. Before you send angry emails, the "F" stands for fight.

Now that you're here, let's talk about why nearly 90% of adults agree there is a stigma around HIV and how that can change.

Entertainment reporter for ABC7 Los Angeles Karl Schmid is launching the "F Stigma" campaign to spread awareness and reverse the thinking about HIV.

It all starts with U=U which means undetectable equals untransmittable . "If you are living with HIV and you're taking your medicine daily as prescribed by the doctor, and you get the virus in your system to such a low level that it is technically undetectable, there is zero risk you can transmit the virus to a sexual partner," Schmid says. "There is no longer a need to fear somebody because of their HIV diagnosis."

Schmid, who went public in 2018 with his HIV diagnosis, knows before there can be change there needs to be a conversation and using the phrase "F Stigma" is certainly one way to start that discussion.

As far as his own diagnosis, he says he had a reaction that also needs to change. "How could I do this to my parents? Imagine that, people get cancer and they don't go 'Oh my God how could I do this to someone?" Schmid says. "But we have this innate reaction."

Schmid says it all stems from fear and stigma. "HIV doesn't have to kill anyone. It really doesn't, but I'm telling you stigma could and will and does," Schmid says.

The "F Stigma" mask is just the beginning. You can help start the conversation by getting your own mask and as ABC7 News Anchor Reggie Aqui said: "It (HIV) is just a virus. We know all about viruses in 2020. That's all it is, it's a virus that spreads from one person to another. This says nothing about who you are, who you're going to be or who you were before."
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