5 ways you can avoid HIV stigma
The word stigma means the shame or disgrace that is attached to something that’s rejected by society and considered to be socially unacceptable.
Unfortunately, people living with HIV are still faced with stigma and discrimination, which can be intimidating, discouraging or terrifying. HIV is a virus that anyone can get, and that anyone can still live a healthy life with. It’s not okay for anyone to discriminate against another person. Here are a few ways to avoid stigmatising HIV:
Educating yourself about HIV is the first step towards overcoming the stigma that is attached to the virus. Not only will you have knowledge about HIV and how people living with the virus can live normal lives, but you will also be able to make responsible decisions (like using a condom at all times), which will protect you from possibly contracting the virus.
Another reason why HIV is still stigmatised, is because people are ashamed of talking about it. Don’t be like everyone else Choma, create awareness by having open conversations (whether online or with your loved ones) about HIV and teach those who don’t know better. Be #DoneWithSilence!
Being a victim of discrimination can be painful for anybody. Don’t look down on people who are living with HIV. They’re already going through a lot, so rather be their ally and encourage them not to feel guilty for living with or being affected by the virus.
Don’t be judgmental
HIV stigma is dangerous because the shame attached to it makes people believe that those who are living with it have a lot of sexual partners which is not always the case because you can be born with it. Try not to be judgmental and remind those who are living with or affected by the virus that discrimination and stigma is wrong.
Being supportive of people living with or affected by HIV can go a long way, and it can help them avoid self-stigma. At times, they might feel like giving up and your support may be the strength that they needed to keep going.
Unlike the olden days, the research and medication for HIV have improved, which is a clear indication that a person living with HIV is able to lead a normal, long and healthy life if they take care of themselves. Living with the virus is not the end of the world. Treat everyone with respect and dignity regardless of their status.
If you, or a friend, need advice you can speak to me for advice or help here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657), whenever you need someone to talk to.
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