(JAMAICA STAR) — When aspiring actress Jordan Spencer decided to be a part of a 2017 HIV/AIDS public education campaign (PSA), she had no idea that she would be faced with backlash or that her appearance would put a damper on her relationship.
Spencer, who is not a carrier of the virus, said that she went into a state of depression because of the discrimination she experienced.
“I could hardly sleep. I used to call the producer everyday. I was so stressed out about it. At a point in time, I regret doing the commercial, and I remember even turning to alcohol although I never usually drink,” Spencer told THE WEEKEND STAR.
“I did everything possible to not think about it, and I kept imagining what my friends who had the virus were going through. It’s funny because it was after I did the commercial that my two friends told me that they had the virus and that was because they thought I had it.”
Spencer was a guest at yesterday’s Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour and Practice (KABP) dissemination that was held at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa in St Andrew.
The 29-year-old make-up artist and piercing specialist told THE WEEKEND STAR that she was taken aback when she saw the ad, as she was initially told that her identity would not be revealed.
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“Some of my customers would ask me why I didn’t tell them that I have AIDS, and I had to keep telling them that I don’t have the virus but just did the commercial. I explained to them that is why the producer tried to blur out my image, but they didn’t blur out my voice,” she said.
“People would stop booking me for jobs. I have my own promotions agency, and people would stop booking my group because of me. I kept asking them why would they judge me, because regardless of my status, I would still give my clients a 100 per cent.”
Spencer also explained that her appearance in the ad also had negative implications for her relationship.
“I would be walking on the road, and persons who don’t know me would say: ‘That’s the girl with the AIDS who do the commercial.’ It put a stamp on my family, job and even my relationship. My partner and I split up for five months, and we recently got back together. And it’s not like we are even back together officially because there is still little trust issues,” she said.
“We had to visit the doctor for him see that I was not HIV positive. He kept saying that something must be wrong because it could not just be because I like to act or needed the money at the time. I did a test, and he told me that he needed to be there because they can put anything on the paper. We went together, and he saw the results himself. It’s from there that we are trying to build back our relationship.”
If being discriminated was not enough, the actress said her daughter was also affected by the campaign.
“My daughter is almost six years old, and her schoolmates would tease her and say that her mother has AIDS because that’s what the parents tell their children. She kept telling them it’s just a commercial. I know exactly what she is facing because I am facing it myself. That is why I had to ask the producer to do a different commercial because it is influencing persons to think negatively about me and my image,” she said.
Spencer is now being featured in the 2019 media campaign that clears the air about her status.
While she awaits the new campaign, Spencer explained that she has learnt how to deal with the negative comments. She is also imploring others to get more educated about the virus and to be more accepting of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
“I still face it (negative comments) everyday, but what I do now is when they try to push me down, I lift myself back up and push them away instead. All I am asking is for persons to educate themselves about the virus. Anyone can get it, and you don’t have to be sexually active with a hundred person to contract it,” Spencer said.