Samuel: “For anyone who is feeling confused and alone, you are not alone”

Samuel, thank you so much for taking the time to let us interview you today. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers? What do you do and where are you based?

It’s a pleasure and honour to be asked to be part this great and very important project. The names Samuel, I guess my friends would say I’m pretty out going and hard to keep up with. Always up to something new and random, but also very laid back. Sometimes too laid back you could say. I’m a dancer and actor but it’s only recently I’ve become more aware of how to use my passion and skills to speak out and help others, which is why I love my Twitter followers as they are so supportive even if I do fill their timeline with photos of me pretty much naked and covered in glitter. But there’s worse things you could see, I hope. 

I’m based in Reading.

Well I know for certain the first thing some readers maybe wondering is what your Twitter handle is!? Care to share?

My Twitter handle is @whitecoal93 

Twitter for me is somewhere you can have a voice and be heard as well as have a laugh. My Twitter promotes body image and sexuality for sure as well as photography as I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some great photographers from Twitter. I think it’s important to celebrate who you are and I fully recommend that everyone does a nude photoshoot because it’s awesome and so empowering.

Photoshoot by Mark Lister
Very empowering indeed! Before we talk HIV, Attitude Magazine published an article about you very recently, would you like to tell us a little bit about that?

Yeah sure! Attitude Magazinr approached me about this real bodies campaign they have, which is about body image, nudity and how social media has affected that. To be honest at first I was nervous and said yes but part of me wasn’t sure I could do it and then I messaged my friends to which they all turned around and was like DO IT! So I did and it was a lot of fun, I’m really glad and thank full that I got to do it. If something makes nervous it’s can also sometimes be the best thing you ever do.

Now that’s definitely something I can relate to! I haven’t asked you what your status or sexuality is, you’re free to disclose or keep this to yourself but I would like to ask if you have witnessed any HIV stigma in any environment, whether it be in school, the workplace, social circles etc, is this something that has affected you either directly or indirectly?

I do not have HIV however as a homosexual it is so important whether you are negative or positive to speak up when you see someone being discriminated against because the stigma isn’t going away unless we stand up and change how HIV is perceived. Again I’ve be lucky to not be directly affected but as a community, if one person is affected we all should act upon it. I do believe schools should edcuate us more as I feel I never really got told much about HIV and then we are sent into the big wide world and I found myself having to Google for the facts.

Yes I couldn’t agree more! I would like to know what your general opinion is on PrEP?

I’ve only just recently found out about PrEP which concerns me as it’s over 90% effective in preventing HIV and that’s amazing so why did it take me so long to find out? If you think about how women can take the pill to prevent pregnancy and I’m safe in saying that the pill is popular and in my experience females are very open about using the pill. So I guess what I’m trying to say is why is PrEP harder to get hold of? 

Well this figure fluctuates depending on which study you base this on, however, if taken daily you can reach protection levels above 98% if adhered to daily! We will be happy to guide you if you think PrEP is something you would be interested in. As a PrEP user I pay £50 a month legally and legitimately to purchase PrEP, however the NHS will be rolling out a large-scale trial to 10,000 applicants next year for those who need access to it and are deemed high-risk.

Something we ask in every interview Samuel, we want our #STIGMAWARRIOR campaign to be a place of reassurance for the newly diagnosed so it’s important I ask if you have any reassuring words for those who have recently contradicted HIV, particularly those who are left feeling confused and alone with their new condition.

Thanks for giving me more information about PrEP, it’s important to ask questions and educate yourself that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to be part of the #STIGMAWARRIOR campaign. 

For anyone who is feeling confused and alone, you are not alone and you may feel like there is no way out but there is. It takes people like you to wake up and keep fighting and living, HIV doesn’t define you and don’t let it stop you from doing anything even if everyone else is telling you otherwise. If anybody reading this is in need of a friend or someone to make them laugh you can always message me on Twitter. My jokes may not be funny but I’ll try.

Thank you for those inspiring words Samuel. Whilst we still have you, do you have anything else you would like to say to our readers before we wrap this up?

Firstly thank you for letting me be part of this great campaign! It’s an honour and I think what you are doing is amazing.

To all your readers thank you for taking them time to read my interview and you are all beautiful people, do what you love and stay positive!

Read Samuel’s interview with Attitude Magazine here

Want to take part in our #STIGMAWARRIOR campaign? Have your say on HIV stigma and get in touch: stigmawarrior@destigmatizehiv.com