Understanding The Causes and Effects of Stigma and Discrimination Against People With HIV/AIDS

Discrimination Against People With HIV/AIDS

AIDS discrimination and stigma exist worldwide manifesting themselves differently across communities, countries, individuals and religious groups. They arise along different forms of discrimination and stigma, such as misogyny or homophobia, racism, discrimination based on appearance and direct towards those who are involved in socially unacceptable activities like drug use or prostitution. 

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Understanding The Causes and Effects of Stigma and Discrimination Against People With HIV/AIDS

AIDS discrimination and stigma exist worldwide manifesting themselves differently across communities, countries, individuals and religious groups. They arise along different forms of discrimination and stigma, such as misogyny or homophobia, racism, discrimination based on appearance and direct towards those who are involved in socially unacceptable activities like drug use or prostitution.

This defamed banding makes it difficult for people who struggle to cope up with HIV and handle their illness on personal levels. Moreover, it acts as an interferer for people who fight against AIDS epidemic. At the national level, dishonor related to HIV deters governments from taking effective and fast actions against the epidemic, whereas at a personal level, individuals get reluctant to HIV testing, care, and treatment.

Reasons for the existence of stigma related to AIDS and HIV

  • Individuals suffering from AIDS and HIV live in society as reprehensible people. There are societies where the virus is linked to minority behaviors or groups, for instance, homosexuality.
  • There are some cases where AIDS/HIV may be associated with distortion and people infected with it will be punished.
  • There are a number of societies that treat AIDS and HIV as a consequence of personal irresponsibility bringing shame to the community and family.
  • There are negative responses to AIDS / HIV which unfortunately widely exist and act as dominant ideas of right and wrong with respect to improper and proper behaviors.

Different aspects which contribute to AIDS / HIV related stigma:

  • People are afraid of contracting HIV
  • HIV is a dangerous disease.
  • The disease’s alliance with behaviors like injecting drug use and sex, which are already discriminated in societies.
  • People suffering from HIV are often held responsible for their infection.
  • Moral or religious beliefs lead people to think that HIV is a consequence of moral faults such as deviant sex or promiscuity. Hence, people with such disease should be punished.

The consequences of stigma

  • HIV related stigma creates a profound effect on the epidemic’s course. World health organization considers fear of discrimination and stigma as the chief cause of people being reluctant to get tested and disclose their AIDS / HIV status.
  • Studies show that people with a high stigma level are ones that have extremely poor access to organizations which assist people with HIV.
  • Disgrace contributes towards the expansion of this epidemic. People suffering from HIV and high stigma level are reluctant towards determining their status and refuse to practice safe sex.
  • People affected with mark get into a major loss of livelihood and income.
  • Individuals do not want to consider options like marriage and child-bearing.
  • Stigma affected people do not want to visit health sectors and worsen their conditions.
  • This kind of branding develops a feeling of triviality in HIV patients.
  • People with such illness feel that they are left with no reputation in society.

These consequences refer to self-disgrace or internal dishonor. This refers to the way in which people treat themselves and how they see society’s perception of patients with HIV. Stigmatising actions and beliefs may be forced on individuals living with AIDS / HIV themselves.

No law or policy alone can combat AIDS / HIV related discrimination. Discrimination and stigma will exist as long as the societies have a poor perspective of AIDS and HIV and the suffering and pain caused by discriminatory practices and negative attitudes. The prejudice and fear that comes along with AIDS / HIV related discrimination need to be dealt with at different levels of community and nation on the whole.

This is where HIV education plays a major role. Creating an enabling environment will change the outlook of people towards HIV. Confronting the biased social attitudes and fear-based messages will reduce the stigma and discrimination of people suffering from AIDS.

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