When you’re born with HIV
There isn’t much of a difference between healthy people living with HIV and healthy people living without HIV, and if you’re someone who was born with HIV then this is something you might know very well. A lot of the times the problem with HIV is not living with it, but that people who are not living with it don’t always understand it. One of the best things for you, choma, is to live your life as beautiful and as best as you can. This means taking care of yourself first, understanding where other people’s fear and discrimination comes from and knowing how to deal with it.
Here’s a further breakdown of stigma and dealing with it choma.
What is stigma?
HIV stigma is when someone who has HIV is treated negatively or discriminated against simply for having the virus. There is a fear coming from people who ill-treat HIV-positive people because they don’t know enough about the virus. If you are still young, living with HIV and are aware that there are people out there who can potentially treat you badly because you have the virus that can be a little scary for you and might make you think there is something wrong with you. Remember that you are not the problem choma. The problem is people’s perception of HIV.
What is self-stigma
HIV self-stigma is when you have some form of discrimination against yourself because you are living with HIV. Fear and self-discrimination may break down your self-esteem and confidence and can cause depression. It’s important to always take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally - not because you are living with HIV, but because, just like everyone else, you deserve to live a healthy life.
The problem with stigma
Stigma is often more harmful than the HI-Virus itself because it causes unnecessary fear and discrimination. It also makes talking about HIV a lot harder and makes it difficult for those living with HIV to live openly. And if you can’t talk openly about HIV or about having HIV then that makes asking for support and treatment difficult. However, the more we talk about HIV and the myths about people living with HIV, the better.
What can we do about this?
Empower and educate
Understand that you have rights and you are protected by law as someone living with HIV. If you are ever discriminated against for being HIV-positive, look up section 9, the Equality Right, of our Constitution choma, to know more and empower yourself. Don’t shy away from discussing HIV with others if you really want to. Witnessing you living a ‘normal’, healthy life just might change people’s minds.
Just remember that you also have a right to privacy so you’re not forced to disclose your status if you’re not ready to or if you feel it will endanger you.
Connect with a support group
A support group is a group of people who meet in a safe and supportive environment to provide support to each other. There are HIV support groups or call them on 011 482 8297/8.
Put your wellbeing first
One of the best ways to deal with stigma is to value yourself above anyone else’s opinion of you, especially in the instance where someone’s discrimination is a result of their own fear or lack of education.
Focus on managing your own stress first before dealing with other people’s anxieties about your status.
HIV doesn’t define who you are as a person. We’ve come a long way in HIV medicine choma and the fact that you are here today means you are a conqueror, and that alone is enough reason to be proud of yourself. Don’t ever let HIV limit you in anything.
If you feel like you need someone to talk to just know that you can always Ask Choma.
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