Facing HIV stigma
So what is stigma and how can you define it?
ETA agree that we feel that Stigma is when you make a judgment about someone for a reason they have no control over changing. Stigma is very painful and very lonely for those suffering it. Not only are they having to struggle with accepting their own HIV status, they may be also be working and parenting. That alone is enough to admire somebody. Not judge and blame them.
Stigma what does it feel like;
Many of us have felt these emotions when we were being judged.
What are the common forms of stigma? Firstly, Judgmental Stigma,
- She is sleeping around
- They have aids
- She knew and gave it to someone else
- He is gay it’s his fault
- Her husband is having an affair
- They are dirty
- God did this to them as a punishment
- Don’t go near that person you will catch it
- She is a prostitute
- They are going to die
These are all assumptions that are real life to many people and none of the above is normally ever correct. To stop this stigma is to understand the facts and don’t judge others.
Secondly, Emotional Stigma
- She is a bad Mother
- You can’t see your children again leave.
- Disowned by the family
- Abandoned by close friends
- Having to leave your community
Finally, Perceived or self-Stigma;
- It’s my fault everyone says it.
- If only I had used a condom this wouldn’t be my fault.
- I deserve it
- I was told this would happen
- It’s because I’m Gay
These are all just a few examples of what Stigma looks like. The good news is that we can all overcome this. We can’t change how others think of us, but we can change how we think of ourselves. We can educate those people that judge us to the real truths about HIV. The Hope you must have, if you are experiencing stigma, is that it does get better. As time goes on and you become more comfortable with your own diagnoses HIV becomes just a small part of life that lives in the background. It does not define who we are. It was never anyone’s fault and finally, we must live happy healthy lives and not be confined because of HIV.
We need to create an HIV free generation and without talking about it we will never reach that goal.
Myths and misinformation increase the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV. Stigma and discrimination makes people vulnerable to HIV. Some people living with HIV and other key affected populations are shunned by family, peers and the wider community, while others face poor treatment in educational and work settings, erosion of their rights, and psychological damage. These all limit access to HIV testing, treatment and other HIV services and in turn feeds to HIV crisis in Africa.