What Is The Stigma Around HIV And AIDS

What Is The Stigma Around HIV And AIDS
15 Mar 2023
6 mins
Table Of Content
What Is The Stigma Around HIV And AIDS

    HIV and AIDS tremendously affect a person's mental health and well-being. When a person is diagnosed with HIV infection, even mundane things like going to a job, hospital, or anywhere becomes a huge challenge. We will discuss what HIV stigma is and its types.

    What Is HIV Stigma And Discrimination?


    Stigma is a social label that changes the way individuals look at themselves. It makes a person devoid of social acceptance. HIV-related stigma is a Universal problem, but the experiences and their impact vary from person to person.

    Discrimination associated with HIV is a behavioural consequence of people who believe in those social labels. HIV stigma makes people affected with HIV vulnerable to several discriminations. They are often subject to prejudice, negative attitude and abuse.

    Types Of HIV Stigma


    HIV stigma remains a key barrier to prevent timely access to health care and treatment. Stigma and discrimination are the two significant contributing factors to psychological distress. Let's discuss the four common stigmas associated with HIV:

    1. Self-Stigma


    Self-stigma is a consequence of fear and shame surrounding HIV diagnosis. People often internalize society's negative attitude towards HIV, as a result of which they begin judging themselves. Self-stigma hampers one's ability to reach out for help even if it is the need of the hour.

    Due to self-stigma, people isolate themselves from social gatherings, fearing judgemental comments. They end up making life-altering decisions like not applying for jobs anymore, not getting married, not going to the hospital for treatment, discontinuing education, etc.

    2. Disclosure Stigma


    Many people do not disclose their HIV diagnosis, fearing how others will react. For example, people infected with HIV will be in constant dilemma about whether to disclose their diagnosis in their workplace.

    3. Public Attitude Stigma


    After a person discloses their HIV status, the attitude of others is known as public attitude stigma. Due to public attitude stigma, many people have experienced exclusion from social gatherings, religious activities, family functions, the workplace, and their own homes.

    4. Negative Self-Image


    Several taboos and misconceptions of HIV push people to feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. These feelings trigger poor mental health symptoms, and people subject themselves to self-harming behaviour.

    Need To Address HIV Stigma


    Stigma and discrimination affect a person's mental health and well-being. People diagnosed with HIV often internalize the stigma and develop a negative self-image. They live in constant fear about their "secret" being revealed.

    Apart from the emotional impact, people have also lost their jobs, income, relationships, etc. Many have received ill treatment from family and friends and were denied quality healthcare services. There have been situations where people have refused to seek timely treatment due to earlier bad experiences of being abused by healthcare staff.

    To understand what is HIV stigma and its effects, read the following consequences a person faces after their diagnosis.


    • Loss of job opportunities
    • Loss of livelihood
    • Loss of relationships
    • Bullying and harassment
    • Social isolation
    • Untouchability
    • Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts
    • Lack of adherence to treatment
    • Lack of access to treatment
    • Lack of mental health support

    Why Do Individuals Discriminate Against Others Based On Their HIV Status?


    Stigma and discrimination associated with HIV often stem from the stereotypical myth of perceiving HIV as the result of 'sexual wrongdoing'. Though HIV awareness has improved massively in the past century, HIV-positive diagnosis still instills some amount of fear and misconception in society.

    A recent study has reported that non-HIV infected people expressed feelings of blame, disgust, and negative attitude towards infected people, especially sex workers. Many non-infected people believe that people of a particular community, gender, sexual orientation, and social status get infected.

    How To Get Rid Of HIV Stigma And Discrimination?


    Getting rid of stigma and discrimination is the responsibility of each one of us. Talking about HIV should not be a taboo subject. While talking about HIV, pay attention to the tone and words as they hugely impact people with HIV.

    HIV or AIDS are chronic Infections or diseases that have to be identified as health scares rather than as an identity of a person. Instead of addressing them as AIDS patients or HIV patients, we need to address them as a person with HIV or AIDS. Every one of us needs to be aware of the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding HIV and AIDS because we need to play our part in breaking the stereotypes.

    Written by
    Dr. BhairaviMedical Content Writer
    AboutPharm D
    Tags :HIV misconceptionssocial stigma of HIVaddressing the taboos of HIVstigma and discrimination in HIV infected people