HIV/AIDS The Stigma

Aids is a universal syndrome that has touched the lives of patients, families, and caregivers.

Stigma is a mark of disgrace and in this case is linked with a particular virus. Normally, when a person is HIV positive, they are seen as a part of a stereotyped group. These negative attitudes create prejudice and discrimination and create feelings such as:

  • Shame
  • Hesitant to seek help
  • Blame

Some people are neglected by family, peers and their community and some are dismissed or experience a lack of treatment.

It is important for people to try to overcome the common misconceptions of HIV/AIDS. Many people living with the virus experience fear, stigmatization and discrimination, however what they need is support and reassurance.

Common misconceptions of people living with HIV:

  • Drug use and tattoos
  • Homosexuality
  • Death
  • Sex Work
  • Homelessness
  • Irresponsibility

Dr. Elliot discussed the relationship of HIV/AIDS and human rights last term. One of her points was how discrimination and stigma could affect they way a person deals with being infected with HIV. If someone lives in a place where there is a lot of stigma, they will likely experience a lack of compassion.

  • Do not stay silent
  • Know the difference between HIV and AIDS
  • Learn how to react when someone tells you they are HIV positive
  • Avoid using language that stigmatizes others

My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid is a memoir about her youngest brother’s AIDS-related death.

Her brother suffers from social stigmas and stereotypes due to ignorance... He fears the homophobia and unfavorable treatment he would likely receive from the doctors in the hospital.

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