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Al Safi met one of the men, a 24-year-old, via an online classified ad in July 2011.
The other, a 21-year-old, he met on an online dating site last December.
“We really need to take the opportunity to make sure people are educated about HIV and what it means today.” Mikiki says the representation of HIV in popular culture and media hasn’t caught up with medical advancements and often focuses on death and tragedy, or the criminalization of non-disclosure.While working at a Toronto clinic, Mikiki noticed that “the amount of anxiety that people would feel …was completely dismantled or diffused” if they knew at least one person living with HIV.“Sometimes I would use that as an opportunity to come out about my status and talk about how essentially normal and in a lot of ways boring my life can be, living with HIV, in terms of managing it as a health condition.” Simons says her ideal outcome from the pop-up restaurant would be a dramatic change in public awareness.She hopes that “if we were to run our stigma survey again in the next few months or years, the results will be much more favourable.” Mikiki says the experience of serving and preparing food allows people with HIV the opportunity to show the general public what living with the virus actually means.
Probably not.” Mikiki is one of 14 HIV-positive chefs who developed the menu and cooked the food at June’s HIV Eatery, a pop-up restaurant organized by Casey House, a Toronto hospital for people living with HIV and AIDS.