When Johneri'O Scott was diagnosed with HIV, he was terrified his life was ending. Seven years later, his life and work have only just begun.
The talk show host recently told Sonia Baghdady of Advocate Now why the fight to end stigma around HIV is crucial to those who have it, and why he uses his platform to raise awareness for them.
"When I found out that I contracted HIV, I was devastated because the stigma was... if you have HIV, you had AIDS, you were going to die soon," Scott explains. "And now just [with] technology and the change of medicine and the education that we have now ... Your life is not over. It's just beginning."
Johneri'O Scott | Advocate Now
Though his diagnosis was initially devastating, health professionals and support groups helped Scott find the tools he needed to maintain his health. Through medicine, nutritious eating, exercise, and a positive mindset, he says there is no question that those with HIV can live life to the fullest.
"Do not give up on life experience. Talk to your physician. If you have to go to support groups, go to support groups, but keep going," Scott says, adding, "You just have to make some changes, like adding a pill regimen. But other than that, nothing changes. You are still the amazing individual that you are."
Scott is the host of talk show Second Chance, which aims for audiences to "gain knowledge and understanding" about HIV and different walks of life through in-depth conversations. He says the most important thing for viewers to take away is that their conditions don't define them, and that there is always a "second chance to live."
"I am not HIV. I wanted people to know that if you're out there living with HIV, it does not control you," Scott explains. "Whether it's HIV, whether it is cancer, whether it's high blood pressure, whatever the case is, it does not control you. You control it. Once I got that in my mind and in my head, everything got so much better."
Scott recommends that everyone "get tested, know your status," and that those living with the virus rely on their support systems as they aim to become HIV undetectable.
For more interviews like these, watch Advocate Now on The Advocate Channel.
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