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A film by and for Indigenous people living with HIV.

Many Indigenous people living with HIV understand how Indigenous knowledge and culture can support and enhance the use of Western medicines used to treat HIV. In the film Strong Medicine, eight Indigenous people tell their stories about living with HIV. They encourage others to get tested, start HIV treatment early if they test positive, stay on treatment and connect with their culture. Here are some of their words:

“When I look at anybody who’s struggling in their life, I ask myself, ‘What brought this human being to this point in their life?’ I try to remove judgment and just observe them. I think the doctors that have had the most impact on my life have shown concern about not only my physical well-being but my mental well-being, my emotional well-being and have asked me, ‘How are you doing in your life? What other support are you seeking in your healthcare? What keeps you healthy? What are some of the self-care things that you’re doing for yourself?’ Just a sincere interest in me as a human being.”

“My diagnosis was a life-changing moment for me, because up until that point I felt disconnected from my own community. I felt very disconnected from my culture, even though I speak my language. I’m fluent in my Anishinaabe language, but I felt there was something missing… Because I felt so alone when I was first diagnosed, and scared, I began praying. It really helped me to make that connection to my Creator… the prayers really helped, and I began learning more about connecting back to my culture.”

“When I was diagnosed, I was lost and confused... I was sad. I was lonely. I was depressed. I was suicidal. Almost everything in the dark. I switched. The spiritual people, the healing people, they brought light in my life. They brought my life back down to earth.”

“There are people who have been living with HIV for longer than 27 years that I look up to and respect, and they were activists long before me. But there [are new] generations coming in, people newly living with HIV and they need us, who have been around for a while, to show that we’re alive! And we’re healthy and we’re happy.”

“People living with HIV/AIDS, they need their meds absolutely but they also need to keep their spirituality, to keep their spirit alive.”

If you want to host a screening in your community or at an organization you’re affiliated with, you can order a free DVD screening kit from the CATIE Ordering Centre: call 1.800.263.1638 or click here.