HIV related stigma and discrimination-this is when people who are infected with the virus are seen as unacceptable to the community and negative attitude is directed to them making them feel unwanted.The effects of stigmatization are wide range.Some people are shunned by their families,peers and the wider community,while others face poor treatment in healthcare and educational settings, erosion of their rights, and psychological damage.This all limits access to HIV tests,treatment and other services.
The fear surrounding the emerging HIV pandemic back in the 1980’s is still seen today.Back then,people did not know much about the disease hence they were scared of those infected and even avoided contact.HIV infected people were always associated with death and immorality such as homosexuality,drug abuse and infidelity.Inadequate information on how the disease was being transmitted led to irrational behavior and misperception of personal risk.
People who are stigmatized are marked out as being different and are blamed for that difference till now.
“Some people when they hear that someone’s HIV positive – especially us Africans – they’ll be seeing someone who’s dying, someone who is not supposed to touch anyone.”
HIV is an infection which many people have fears, prejudices or negative attitudes about. Stigma can result in people with HIV being insulted, rejected, gossiped about and excluded from social activities.Fear of this happening can at times causes people who are infected to avoid coming out and getting the necessary help they need.They may end up suffering in silence instead of reaching out to the medical services and treatment they need.Stigma can also result in people with HIV believing the things that other people say about HIV. For example, they may think it’s true that HIV is a death sentence or that most people with HIV are immoral or irresponsible.
This is the attitude I deeply dislike.Peoples’ infected with HIV are just normal human beings like you and me.They have feelings like you and do not need anyone making their life harder than it probably is.People need to understand that being HIV positive is just a condition like any other and it can be managed.Stigma against this people is not fair at all since it is based on illogical beliefs.
HIV is not transmitted to you if you talk to them or touch them.At times you need to put yourself in their shoes and picture yourself being secluded just because you are sick.or people seeing you as different yet you can do all they can and at times even better.Not all HIV victims are related to homosexuality and infidelity so labeling all of them is just unfair,and even in the case where the victim is known to have “bad behavior” you have no right to judge them as you too have sinned in the past.Remember the story in the bible where people wanted to stone to death a woman who was believed to be a prostitute,and Jesus challenged them by saying whoever who thinks he/she is sinless to throw the first stone,but no one did?In that crowd,everyone was a sinner but Jesus and even him did not throw the stone.
HIV infected people should not be judged,discriminated,labeled,gossiped and secluded.This is being a hypocrite.HIV infected people should be treated with love and care and helped as much as possible to live better and healthier live.
“I think it’s very important to de-stigmatize HIV infected people in any form.I think they are a lot of people carrying baggage ,guilt and shame for sh*t that doesn’t even matter.Everybody is going through something and has had something they need to overcome,pleas let’s not make other peoples life harder by not minding our own shit and treating them as different
I share my story
“So many people think of HIV/AIDS as something that doesn’t affect them, not realizing that I’ve been living with HIV for 7 years. I share my story as often as I can, in the hopes of opening their eyes to what HIV positive people deal with on a daily basis. Everyone has been affected by HIV/AIDS. We have come a long way but HIV is still here… and so am I.”
—Jimmy Gale, benefits coordinator & PrEP navigator, Magnet
Don’t stay silent
“I have spent most of my life with conservative people….friends, family, coworkers. Good people who say stigmatizing things about drug users, the homeless and the LGBT community. I have to admit that in the past although I did not participate, I also did not speak up. I know many people who stay silent (aka the silent majority). My advice is to speak up! Respectfully yet firmly. There’s a saying I learned from my former boss, “what you permit, you promote.” I no longer permit the people in my circle to stigmatize others.”
—Jody Schaffer, director of volunteer services
Know that I am not a victim
“I am living with HIV. I am not suffering from HIV so please don’t say that—or call me a victim or an AIDS patient. My name is Vince.”
—Vince Crisostomo, program manager, Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network
Watch your language
“Don’t describe other people using terms such as ‘tweaker,’ ‘stoner,’ ‘speed freak,’ ‘drunk’, ‘crackhead’, ‘dopefiend,’ etc. since these words can be harmful and stigmatizing. And be careful of describing someone as a current or former ‘addict,’ since not all people who use substances are ‘addicted’ or would choose that term for themselves.”
—Sarah Thibault, LCSW, intake coordinator, The Stonewall Project