The new faces of HIV/AIDS: Our Children

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In the Land of Poz
The new faces of HIV/AIDS: Our Children

The condition known as leprosy was very well known in ancient history. Usually because of the fear associated with the disease and ignorance of the disease most societies were quick to label anyone with leprosy as an outcast. In fact, Jewish religion and law classified anyone who exhibited the symptoms of leprosy as “unclean.” In addition to having an ailment, which could be quite uncomfortable at times, people with leprosy had to suffer the indignities and humiliation associated with being unwanted by society. Neither they nor their belongings were to come in contact with those who were free of the disease.
They often went ignored. Victims of misunderstood diseases usually become nothing more than a statistic – a nameless face in a sea of individuals who have had the good fortune to avoid the same problem. Modern medicine has since discovered the cause and cure for leprosy and a myriad of other socially isolating diseases, to include tuberculosis. Unfortunately, there is still a nameless face commonly overlooked today. While the AIDS virus has become more manageable by the medical profession, the people with HIV/AIDS have continued to be labels as outcasts by society. The fear, dread, and ignorance associated with diseases of the past has now attached itself to the “clean” individuals of today’s society. People living with HIV/AIDS have no clear features in society mainly because of the depersonalization, which has been applied to the condition and the victims of this new leprosy. The avoidance of this disease is painfully obvious when one considers how it is effecting our youth now and how it will affect our youth in the future.
Any disease carries some stigma and stereotype because of people's desire to separate themselves from anything that reminds them of illness, disfigurement, disability, and, worst of all, death. People have, throughout history, stigmatized and stereotyped certain diseases more than others. These selected diseases have not necessarily been the most lethal or the most contagious. Leprosy, the prototype of a stigmatized disease, has low levels of both contagion and fatality. The primary characteristics associated with someone who is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is that they are either gay or an IV drug user. The reality is that HIV/AIDS is prevalent in a multitude of groups. Yes, the homosexual community, as well as the drug community, has been hit extremely hard by this disease.

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