Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is no longer regarded as a fatal disease in developed nations because of the availability of effective treatments. In spite of this, millions of people worldwide catch HIV and pass away from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, also known as AIDS.
At the end of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1.1 million Americans older than 13 were HIV positive.
How Does HIV Stigma Work?
HIV stigma refers to unfavorable perceptions of those who have the virus. The discrimination that results from classifying someone as a member of a group is what is deemed to be improper in society.
Here Are A Few Illustrations:
- Believing that HIV can only be acquired by a specific group of people
- Judging the moral character of those who take action to prevent HIV transmission
- The belief that individuals deserve to contract HIV as a result of their decisions
Symptoms And Signs
Depending on the stage of infection, the symptoms of HIV change. Although those who have HIV are typically most contagious in the first few months after becoming infected, many don’t become aware of their condition until much later. People may suffer no symptoms in the first several weeks following the original infection or flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, rash, or sore throat.
They may also have other signs and symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea, and cough as the virus gradually weakens the immune system. In addition, they run the risk of contracting life-threatening conditions such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and lymphomas, as well as cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections, and tuberculosis (TB).
By reducing their exposure to risk factors, individuals can lower their risk of contracting HIV. The following are important HIV prevention strategies that are frequently combined:
- Use of male and female condoms,
- HIV and STI screening and counseling,
- Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC),
- Use of antiretroviral medications for prevention,
- Including the dapivirine vaginal ring and Inject-able long-acting cabotegravir;
- Harm reduction for drug users who inject substances,
- As well as the abolition of HIV mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).
Facts About HIV Stigma:
According to Steven Santiago, MD, the chief medical officer of Care Resource, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS organization in South Florida, “there are many reasons why people need to know about HIV/AIDS, from figuring out whether they are at risk themselves to even how to speak sensitively to someone who has the disease.” Here are 9 facts you should be aware of.
- The virus is HIV.
- A person is diagnosed with AIDS if they have an HIV infection, a low immune cell count, an opportunistic illness, or both.
- The second stage is the most important for therapy and is most frequently referred to as chronic HIV.
- Sexual contact and sharing of needles and syringes are the two very specific actions most likely to result in transmission.
- Innocent contact such as social kissing, hugs, or sharing plates or restrooms won’t spread HIV.
- Since the advent of World AIDS Day, early diagnosis and antiretroviral therapy have been successful in turning HIV into a chronic illness rather than the fatal diagnosis it was at the time.
- Despite advancements in HIV treatment, a cure is still not available.
- Thanks to improvements in diagnosis, care, and prevention, HIV/AIDS no longer makes the news as much as it did a generation ago.
- When all the information on HIV/AIDS is considered, it becomes clear that knowing your HIV status is one of the most crucial elements in the successful treatment and prevention of the disease.
What Are The Negative Effects Of HIV Stigma And Prejudice?
People are living with HIV experience emotional distress and mental illness as a result of HIV stigma and prejudice. People who have HIV frequently internalize the stigma they encounter and start to form a poor opinion of themselves. They could worry that if their HIV status is known, they’ll face prejudice or be treated poorly.
When a person begins to apply the negative beliefs and stereotypes about persons living with HIV to themselves, this is known as “internalized stigma” or “self-stigma.” Internalized HIV stigma can cause emotions of guilt, disclosure anxiety, loneliness, and hopelessness. People may hesitate to get tested and receive HIV treatment due to these emotions.
How Can HIV Stigma Be Combated?
Open discussion of HIV can help normalize the topic. Additionally, it offers chances to dispel myths and educate others about HIV. However, exercise caution when discussing HIV and those who are HIV-positive. A useful resource is the Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma language guide.
Through our words and deeds in our daily lives, we can all contribute to the end of HIV stigma. Encourage others by acting in a supportive manner. For advice on what to do if you encounter stigma, see the Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma scenarios. You can also make a pledge to stop HIV stigma by downloading a pledge card to customize and post on your website, blog, and social media channel.