Why it’s time to end HIV stigma

It’s been 30 years since the first reported case of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), yet people living with HIV are still stigmatised even though treatment is available and there are lots of educational resources that create awareness, reduce infection rates in the youth, and encourage healthy sexual behaviour.

Unfortunately, people living with HIV are still faced with stigma and discrimination, which can be intimidating, discouraging and even terrifying. It’s time we do away with HIV stigma, and I am here to tell you why.

HIV stigma is segregation

Segregation is the act of separating people or things – and HIV stigma does just that! The shame and disgrace attached to HIV has caused society to reject and consider people living with HIV as being socially unacceptable. But remember that HIV is a virus that anyone can get, and if you’re infected, you can still live a healthy and fulfilling life. 

HIV stigma is ignorant

HIV ignorance is basically a set of negative ideas and beliefs about HIV and the people who are infected with it. But when you educate yourself about HIV, you’ll learn that improvements have been made to Antiretroviral medication, and if they are  taken daily, one can still live a full and healthy life.

HIV stigma causes fear

This contributes to stigma which often prevents people from getting tested and seeking antiretroviral treatment for fear of judgment and discrimination. The problem with fear is that, more and more people become discouraged to know their status because they are avoiding stigmatisation. But instead, this increases the risk of contracting HIV as fewer people go to clinics to get tested or practise safe sex.

HIV stigma is discrimination

HIV related discrimination is absolutely wrong! In fact no one should be discriminated against for any reason. When you discriminate against people living with HIV you’re also isolating them from society. Which means that people living with HIV are less likely to ask for support from their family and from their community. 

It’s important for each and every one of us to work together towards ending HIV stigma. We can all start by educating ourselves and others about HIV related issues – so we can spread awareness on HIV preventative methods and putting an end to HIV stigma and discrimination. 

When you stop judging people living with HIV and start supporting them, you’re giving them the freedom to live their lives without the fear of being rejected and you’re also making a meaningful contribution towards ending HIV stigma. If you’re also #DoneWithSilence when it comes to HIV stigma, don’t hesitate to let me know by commenting below.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).