The Stigma of HIV/ AIDS


Length: 2443 words (7 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

From the moment scientists identified HIV and AIDS, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fuelling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected, as well as those living with HIV or AIDS. It goes without saying that HIV and AIDS are as much about social phenomena as they are about biological and medical concerns. Across the world the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS has shown itself capable of triggering responses of compassion, solidarity and support, bringing out the best in people, their families and communities. But the disease is also associated with stigma, repression and discrimination, as individuals affected (or believed to be affected) by HIV have been rejected by their families, their loved ones and their communities. This rejection holds as true in the rich countries of the north as it does in the poorer countries of the south.

Stigma is a powerful tool of social control. Stigma can be used to marginalize, exclude and exercise power over individuals who show certain characteristics. While the societal rejection of certain social groups (e.g. 'homosexuals, injecting drug users, sex workers') may predate HIV/AIDS, the disease has, in many cases, reinforced this stigma. By blaming certain individuals or groups, society can excuse itself from the responsibility of caring for and looking after such populations. This is seen not only in the manner in which 'outsider' groups are often blamed for bringing HIV into a country, but also in how such groups are denied access to the services and treatment they need.

Why there is stigma related to HIV and AIDS?
In many societies people living with HIV and AIDS are often seen as shameful. In some societies the infection is associated with minority groups or behaviours, for example, homosexuality, In some cases HIV/AIDS may be linked to 'perversion' and those infected will be punished. Also, in some societies HIV/AIDS is seen as the result of personal irresponsibility. Sometimes, HIV and AIDS are believed to bring shame upon the family or community. And whilst negative responses to HIV/AIDS unfortunately widely exist, they often feed upon and reinforce dominant ideas of good and bad with respect to sex and illness, and proper and improper behaviours.

Factors which contribute to HIV/AIDS -related stigma:

HIV/AIDS is a life-threatening disease
People are scared of contracting HIV
The disease's association with behaviours (such as sex between men and injecting drug-use) that are already stigmatised in many societies

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Stigma of HIV/ AIDS." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=87262>.
Title Length Color Rating  
The Stigma of HIV/ AIDS Essay - From the moment scientists identified HIV and AIDS, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fuelling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected, as well as those living with HIV or AIDS. It goes without saying that HIV and AIDS are as much about social phenomena as they are about biological and medical concerns. Across the world the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS has shown itself capable of triggering responses of compassion, solidarity and support, bringing out the best in people, their families and communities....   [tags: Disease Aids Stigma Essays] 2443 words
(7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Stigma of HIV/AIDS Essay - Erving Goffman, defined Stigma as “a dynamic process of devaluation that significantly discredits’ an individual in the eyes of others” (Sengupta, 2010, p. 1075). PLWHA are subject to stigmatization- that is, to the consequences of being designated as socially deviant (Sandelowski et al, 2009, p.274). In other words, stigma hinders individuals with HIV/AIDS; the stigma of HIV/AIDS is often associated with various groups such as African Americans, women, homosexuals, and intravenous drug users. In addition, people living with “HIV is stigmatized leading to severe social consequences related to their rights, health care services, freedom, self identity, and social interactions” (Mawar et al.,...   [tags: social interactions, deviant behaviors, health] 3013 words
(8.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about Impact of Stigma of HIV-AIDS in the South African Workplace - ... For this stigma and belief, many are isolated at home or at the workplace. They are further stigmatized by their peers via assumptions that they became infected with HIV because they chose to take part in unprotected sex and other behaviour that they believe lead ti HIV infection. HIV/AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus slowly destroy the human body’s ability to fight of infections and cancers. AIDS is a far more progressive stage of HIV infection....   [tags: business, financial management]
:: 16 Works Cited
1510 words
(4.3 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
AIDS/HIV Related Stigma Essay - &#65279;Introduction Since the appearance of AIDS in the late seventies and early eighties, the disease has had attached to it a significant social stigma. This stigma has manifested itself in the form of discrimination, avoidance and fear of people living with AIDS (PLWAs). As a result, the social implications of the disease has been extended from those of other life threatening conditions to the point at which PLWAs are not only faced with a terminal illness but also social isolation and constant discrimination throughout society....   [tags: AIDS Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
2953 words
(8.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Stigma and Discrimination Experienced by People Living with HIV/AIDS at Health Care Facilities - This study explored the prevalence of stigma and discrimination against PLHA in healthcare settings. Poverty level was high among the study participants, with 21% reporting an income below the International Poverty line of 1.25USD per day, whereas another 44% were earning less than 2USD per day. This can both be a driver to get HIV/AIDS as well as a consequence of being HIV-positive. Poverty makes individuals vulnerable to HIV, while those who are diagnosed as HIV-positive are vulnerable to fall into poverty....   [tags: World Health Organization studies]
:: 24 Works Cited
1124 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Developing a Health Advocacy Campaign for HIV Stigma Reduction Essay - My preparation for this assignment began with a review of the Healthy People initiative that was developed by the Department of Health and Human Services. There are many ongoing health issues that our healthcare system is currently dealing with. The Healthy People initiative is a set of goals and objectives designed to guide national health promotion and disease prevention to improve the health of all people in the United States (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). The population health issue I’ve chosen for my policy developing campaign is HIV stigma reduction....   [tags: HIV Stigma Reduction]
:: 7 Works Cited
2741 words
(7.8 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
HIV and African Americans Essay - The term Human Immunodeficiency Virus is commonly known as (HIV), which is a virus that attacks the immune system of humans by destroying the amount of CD4 cells in their bodies. Without CD4 the human body is unable to fight against diseases, which can lead to Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome known as AIDS for short. The first case of the HIV/AIDS virus in the U.S. occurred in the early 1980’s. The first spark of the virus was found in San Francisco with couple of homosexual Caucasian American males....   [tags: infection, youth, virus, AIDS, homosexuals, stigma]
:: 6 Works Cited
1569 words
(4.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Announcement: Magic Johnson and HIV - The documentary The Announcement was mostly about the era in which Magic Johnson lived and explained how HIV victims were perceived at the time (2012). America had a "plague" scare about AIDS in the 1980s when all this broke out which really a great deal to make people reflect on their "free-wheeling" sexual ways and social interactions and relationships. Today in 2014, people are still advised to talk openly with potential sexual partners and even get tested before having sex because AIDS is still very much alive and well in the world and in America....   [tags: aids, hiv patients, victims]
:: 12 Works Cited
1289 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Controversy Over HIV/AIDS Disclosure Law Essay - Abstract Forty million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus. About six percent of them will not inform their intimate partners about their health condition. Many efforts that have been made over the past decade towards establishing a HIV/AIDS law, have finally paid off. The act of disclosing the virus was written in 1990. It caused quite a stir among the citizens of the United States. Many people concluded that there were holes in the disclosure law concerning HIV/AIDS because it lacked complete thought....   [tags: Biology Medical Biomedical Disease HIV AIDS]
:: 5 Works Cited
1371 words
(3.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Description of the Impacts of Medical Stigma and Its Effects Essay - Stigma can be defined as a phenomenon that significantly discredits an individual in the eyes of other people as being different and aberrant. The consequences of stigma can significantly affect the way in which individuals perceive themselves; however, the individual's approach of stigmatization accounts for significant differences in the impact of the illness on the self. Furthermore, stigmatization is a process, and it should therefore be defined as the process of dis-evaluation. It is almost always rooted in the system of negative attitudes that normally exist in communities and cultures, and takes place in the context of connecting people with stigmatized behaviors, illnesses, and disab...   [tags: stigma, attitude, defects, illnesses, disabilities] 743 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]

Related Searches




People living with HIV/AIDS are often thought of as being responsible for becoming infected
Religious or moral beliefs that lead some people to believe that having HIV/AIDS is the result of moral fault (such as promiscuity or 'deviant sex') that deserves to be punished.
"My foster son, Michael, aged 8, was born HIV-positive and diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 8 months. I took him into our family home, in a small village in the south-west of England. At first relations with the local school were wonderful and Michael thrived there. Only the head teacher and Michael's personal class assistant knew of his illness."

"Then someone broke the confidentiality and told a parent that Michael had AIDS. That parent, of course, told all the others. This caused such panic and hostility that we were forced to move out of the area. The risk is to Michael and us, his family. Mob rule is dangerous. Ignorance about HIV means that people are frightened. And frightened people do not behave rationally. We could well be driven out of our home yet again." 'Debbie' speaking to the National AIDS Trust, UK, 2002

Sexually transmitted diseases are well known for triggering strong responses and reactions. In the past, in some epidemics, for example TB, the real or supposed contagiousness of the disease has resulted in the isolation and exclusion of infected people. From early in the AIDS epidemic a series of powerful images were used that reinforced and legitimised stigmatisation.

HIV/AIDS as punishment (e.g. for immoral behaviour)
HIV/AIDS as a crime (e.g. in relation to innocent and guilty victims)
HIV/AIDS as war (e.g. in relation to a virus which need to be fought)
HIV/AIDS as horror (e.g. in which infected people are demonised and feared)
HIV/AIDS as otherness (in which the disease is an affliction of those set apart)
Together with the widespread belief that HIV/AIDS is shameful, these images represent 'ready-made' but inaccurate explanations that provide a powerful basis for both stigma and discrimination. These stereotypes also enable some people to deny that they personally are likely to be infected or affected.

Forms of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination
In some societies, laws, rules and policies can increase the stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS. Such legislation may include compulsory screening and testing, as well as limitations on international travel and migration. In most cases, discriminatory practises such as the compulsory screening of 'risk groups', both furthers the stigmatisation of such groups as well as creating a false sense of security among individuals who are not considered at high-risk. Laws that insist on the compulsory notification of HIV/AIDS cases, and the restriction of a person's right to anonymity and confidentiality, as well as the right to movement of those infected, have been justified on the grounds that the disease forms a public health risk.

Perhaps as a response, numerous countries have now enacted legislation to protect the rights and freedoms of people living with HIV and AIDS and to safeguard them from discrimination. Much of this legislation has sought to ensure their right to employment, education, privacy and confidentiality, as well as the right to access information, treatment and support.

Governments and national authorities sometimes cover up and hide cases, or fail to maintain reliable reporting systems. Ignoring the existence of HIV and AIDS, neglecting to respond to the needs of those living with HIV infection, and failing to recognize growing epidemics in the belief that HIV/AIDS 'can never happen to us' are some of the most common forms of denial. This denial fuels AIDS stigma by making those individuals who are infected appear abnormal and exceptional.

Stigma and discrimination can arise from community-level responses to HIV and AIDS. The harassing of individuals suspected of being infected or of belonging to a particular group has been widely reported. It is often motivated by the need to blame and punish and in extreme circumstances can extend to acts of violence and murder. Attacks on men who are assumed gay have increased in many parts of the world, and HIV and AIDS related murders have been reported in countries as diverse as Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, South Africa and Thailand. In December 1998, Gugu Dhlamini was stoned and beaten to death by neighbours in her township near Durban, South Africa, after speaking out openly on World AIDS Day about her HIV status.

Women and stigma
The impact of HIV/AIDS on women is particularly acute. In many developing countries, women are often economically, culturally and socially disadvantaged and lack equal access to treatment, financial support and education. In a number of societies, women are mistakenly perceived as the main transmitters of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Together with traditional beliefs about sex, blood and the transmission of other diseases, these beliefs provide a basis for the further stigma of women within the context of HIV and AIDS

HIV - positive women are treated very differently from men in many developing countries. Men are likely to be 'excused' for their behaviour that resulted in their infection, whereas women are not.

"My mother-in-law tells everybody, 'Because of her, my son got this disease. My son is a simple as good as gold-but she brought him this disease".HIV-positive woman, aged 26, India

In India, for example, the husbands who infected them may abandon women living with HIV or AIDS. Rejection by wider family members is also common. In some African countries, women, whose husbands have died from AIDS-related infections, have been blamed for their deaths.

Families
In the majority of developing countries, families are the primary caregivers to sick members. There is clear evidence of the importance of the role that the family plays in providing support and care for people living with HIV/AIDS. However, not all family response is positive. Infected members of the family can find themselves stigmatised and discriminated against within the home. There is also mounting evidence that women and non-heterosexual family members are more likely to be badly treated than children and men.

"My mother-in-law has kept everything separate for me-my glass, my plate, they never discriminated like this with their son. They used to eat together with him. For me, it's don't do this or don't touch that and even if I use a bucket to bathe, they yell- 'wash it, wash it'. They really harass me. I wish nobody comes to be in my situation and I wish nobody does this to anybody. But what can I do? My parents and brother also do not want me back."HIV-positive woman, aged 23, India

Employment
While HIV is not transmitted in the majority of workplace settings, the supposed risk of transmission has been used by numerous employers to terminate or refuse employment. There is also evidence that if people living with HIV/AIDS are open about their infection status at work, they may well experience stigmatisation and discrimination by others.

"Nobody will come near me, eat with me in the canteen, nobody will want to work with me, I am an outcast here".HIV positive man, aged 27, India

Pre-employment screening takes place in many industries, particularly in countries where the means for testing are available and affordable.

In poorer countries screening has also been reported as taking place, especially in industries where health benefits are available to employees. Employer-sponsored insurance schemes providing medical care and pensions for their workers have come under increasing pressure in countries that have been seriously affected by HIV and AIDS. Some employers have used this pressure to deny employment to people with HIV or AIDS.

"Though we do not have a policy so far, I can say that if at the time of recruitment there is a person with HIV, I will not take him. I' ll certainly not buy a problem for the company. I see recruitment as a buying-selling relationship. If I don't find the product attractive, I'll not buy it."A Head of Human Resource Development, India

Health Care
Many reports reveal the extent to which people are stigmatised and discriminated against by health care systems. Many studies reveal the reality of withheld treatment, non-attendance of hospital staff to patients, HIV testing without consent, lack of confidentiality and denial of hospital facilities and medicines. Also fuelling such responses are ignorance and lack of knowledge about HIV transmission.

"There is an almost hysterical kind of fear…at all levels, starting from the humblest, the sweeper or the ward boy, up to the heads of departments, which makes them pathologically scared of having to deal with an HIV-positive patient. Wherever they have an HIV patient, the responses are shameful" A retired senior doctor from a public hospital, currently working in a private hospital, India

A survey conducted in 2002 among some 1,000 physicians, nurses and midwives in four Nigerian states, returned disturbing findings. One in 10 doctors and nurses admitted having refused to care for an HIV/AIDS patient or had denied HIV/AIDS patients admission to a hospital. Almost 40% thought a person's appearance betrayed his or her HIV-positive status, and 20%felt that people living with HIV/AIDS had behaved immorally and deserved their fate. One factor fuelling stigma among doctors and nurses is the fear of exposure to HIV as a result of lack of protective equipment. Also at play, it appears was the frustration at not having medicines for treating HIV/AIDS patients, who therefore were seen as 'doomed' to die.

Lack of confidentiality has been repeatedly mentioned as a particular problem in health care settings. Many people living with HIV/AIDS do not get to choose how, when and to whom to disclose their HIV status. When surveyed recently, 29% of persons living with HIV/AIDS in India, 38% in Indonesia, and over 40% in Thailand said their HIV-positive status had been revealed to someone else without their consent. Huge differences in practise exist between countries and between health care facilities within countries. In some hospitals, signs have been placed near people living with HIV/AIDS with words such as 'HIV-positive' and 'AIDS' written on them.

The way forward
HIV-related stigma and discrimination remains an enormous barrier to effectively fighting the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Fear of discrimination often prevents people from seeking treatment for AIDS or from admitting their HIV status publicly. People with or suspected of having HIV may be turned away from healthcare services, employment, refused entry to foreign country. In some cases, they may be evicted from home by their families and rejected by their friends and colleagues. The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS can extend into the next generation, placing an emotional burden on those left behind.

Denial goes hand in hand with discrimination, with many people continuing to deny that HIV exists in their communities. Today, HIV/AIDS threatens the welfare and well being of people throughout the world. At the end of the year 2004, 39.4 million people were living with HIV or AIDS and during the year 3.1 million died from AIDS-related illness. Combating the stigma and discrimination against people who are affected by HIV/AIDS is as important as developing the medical cures in the process of preventing and controlling the global epidemic.

So how can progress be made in overcoming this stigma and discrimination? How can we change people attitudes to AIDS? A certain amount can be achieved through the legal process. In some countries people who are living with HIV or AIDS lack knowledge of their rights in society. They need to be educated, so they are able to challenge the discrimination, stigma and denial that they meet in society. Institutional and other monitoring mechanisms can enforce the rights of people living with HIV or AIDS and provide powerful means of mitigating the worst effects of discrimination and stigma.

However, no policy or law can alone combat HIV/AIDS related discrimination. The fear and prejudice that lies at the core of the HIV/AIDS discrimination needs to be tackled at the community and national levels. A more enabling environment needs to be created to increase the visibility of people with HIV/AIDS as a 'normal' part of any society. In the future, the task is to confront the fear based messages and biased social attitudes, in order to reduce the discrimination and stigma of people who are living with HIV or AIDS.


Return to 123HelpMe.com