To commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, Prime Plus Medical Bali dedicated this post to those who are living with HIV; to infuse them with courage so they can find strength during the recovery process and live their healthy lives again. We highlight false myths and stigmas spreading around the world and how these lead to harmful effects on HIV patients. We call on our readers to start from today onward to stop HIV stigma for good.
How It First Started
People living with HIV have been receiving negative, irresponsible prejudices that make them marginalized, criticized, and discriminated against. Although the contagion is not as easy as how people thought it would be, HIV was wrongly seen as a scourge. In the 1920s, when HIV came up to the surface for the first time in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) then spread in the USA around the 1980s, people associated HIV with false beliefs such as:
- HIV leads to death,
- The infection only derives from some sort of sexual perversion including sex trade, adultery, sexual partner change, and homosexuality. Some cultures indicate the word ‘sex’ a taboo subject,
- That HIV happens to drug addicts and befalls someone that deserves punishment from God due to the result of a moral injury.
- Wrong understanding of HIV transmission from unclear sources of information
Their fear has created negative beliefs that seriously affected their perspectives on how they should behave around people with HIV. HIV stigma appears in form of discrimination that people use to address a phenomenon beyond the idea of ‘normality’ they created.
According to a report published in 2015 by UNAIDS, the harmful impacts of HIV stigma have infiltrated into many sectors such as health, education, employment, community, law enforcement, and justice. The report also exposed that from 35 countries being observed, over 50% of people reported have witnessed people living with HIV receiving discrimination from their surroundings.
STOP HIV STIGMA! The harmful attitudes cause severe psychological impacts on them
This was proven by a 2013 study that revealed people with HIV living in 32 countries were afflicted psychologically from the HIV stigma, leading them to refuse seeking medical intervention, thus, abandoning their vital treatment to take the antiretroviral therapy.
It is very significant for us to stop the HIV stigma considering the victims are often innocent. These include children, mothers during pregnancy and young people. It could also be one of our family members that might not involve in sexual perversion but caught HIV from their husband or wife with sexual partner change history.
HIV stigma often prevents them from enjoying their best life. In some cases, they can not travel and pursue study. Other horrible things they prohibit to have are a job, children, and the worst is, to receive medical care. We will elaborate on the forms of HIV stigma further, in the following.
Read More:STDs in Bali – What Causes HIV and AIDS
STOP HIV STIGMA that comes from one’s inner fear, self-stigma
Self-discrimination has a strong influence on one’s confidence in addressing his need for healthcare. His shame of the possibility he might catch the infection and how the community will react to his condition affect the way he sees himself. It might mean revealing an identity he has kept hidden for instance, being homosexual or about changing his partner multiple times, and other couple reasons. He would prefer compromising on getting access to healthcare rather than facing his condition at face value.
As this self-stigma carries on, the sufferer can no longer find positivity and goodness in life. If the sufferer keeps on locking himself in the room for the longest time possible, there is no way we can identify whether he has HIV or not, unless he takes the testing. Therefore, if we don’t stop this kind of HIV stigma, what we are afraid of will come later is it will be too late for him to recover and the disease has advanced to AIDS making them more prone to early death.
Law-stigma that prohibits them from traveling at ease
UNAIDS has listed around 35 countries in 2015 that enforce laws that prohibit entry to people with HIV. Moreover in 17 countries, if these individuals on travel with positive HIV status are discovered, they will be, without doubts, deported.
There’s nothing more horrible than facing discrimination or being ridiculed and judged for one’s HIV status by people from healthcare settings. The next thing is to be expected, the health providers, instead, treat the patient in insincerity and ignore him/her especially if they learn that the patient is a sex worker or homosexual. The last thing an HIV patient does not wish to happen is their confidentiality is being breached by the health worker. This stigma ultimately leaves the HIV-positive patient too scared to find medical treatment or be truthful about their background.
In employment-stigma, the fear has always been about being open about HIV status and risk losing your job and feeling changes of tension in your coworking relationship.
What people living with HIV often encounter in household or community situations is certain kinds of rejection. Their families might even kick him or her out of their homes. For women with HIV, it might mean being isolated and cannot be with their family. This community stigma can cause them depression and even the thoughts of committing suicide.
Four Basics We Can Do to Stop HIV Stigma
To advocate for people living with HIV, you can follow these four basics to stop HIV stigma from snatching away the happier life they can achieve forward. The key action verbs that avert.org includes in these basics are: educate, protect, include, and empower.
Only when people are fully educated about the know-how of the disease transmission can they change their bad attitudes toward people with HIV. Not only to the public but also to those with HIV, we need to educate them more about the importance of being brave in embracing their fears. The nature of fear is it makes things worse than how it actually is. There are more people beyond your circle that are willing to stand by you. Those who can sincerely give you the support needed to survive the war.
Know that you are protected by the governing law that defends your human rights against discrimination. Those with HIV often feel vulnerable and too timid to voice their experiences. Standing up from discrimination can also look like reporting it to the right people and speaking up against the bullies.
We can help to advocate for people with HIV to respond against discrimination by actively including ourselves to challenge the policies that hamper the patients to obtain fair treatment and care they are lack of getting.
Join communities that accept people living with HIV. This will make you feel like you’re not alone and have a better mentality concerning it. In the communities, you will feel belong. You can find people sharing about health services for HIV in your areas. In fact, there is not yet medication that can totally cure HIV and AIDS. However, antiretroviral therapy can help reduce the viral infection of HIV to the patients. The therapy will allow them to live normally and productively with less risk of transmitting HIV to his or her partner.
STOP HIV STIGMA FOR GOOD
We all carry the responsibility to stop HIV stigma. We need to clear up the unfair myths revolving around HIV that we can solve through educating, protecting, including, and empowering. No one ever wanted to live with HIV. Also, they have the same opportunity to be alive and cherish their lives completely as human beings.
For emergency cases, do call Prime Plus Medical Bali at +6281237387131. We are always happy to help at any time you need us.