HIV and discrimination

AIDS is a pathology that is very difficult to treat. The emotional toil suffered by HIV-positive patients is exacerbated by the psychological suffering caused by discrimination. 


This is because being infected with HIV still remains a source of discrimination even today, both in the workplace and in patient’s personal lives.
Discrimination associated with HIV is based on moral and social prejudice. It is triggered by the presence of recognisable “physical signs”. A person affected with HIV still experiences this discrimination in their daily life, both at work and when with their loved ones. This feeling of discrimination is often accompanied by a strong feeling of social exclusion.
There are many reasons that foster this stigmatisation:
- HIV is a dangerous illness that has no cure;
- HIV is an infectious illness that can be transmitted by risky behaviour such as unprotected sex, drug use etc.
Therefore, AIDS is considered to be an illness that affects people who are already marginalised. This illness is generally interpreted as a punishment or a fair sentence for not having followed the rules and standards of good behaviour.

Discrimination against HIV-positive patients presents a danger

The discrimination associated with HIV has a high cost, both for individuals and society as a whole. While both useless and dangerous, this discrimination is very difficult to eradicate.
In fact, discrimination does more to encourage the spread of HIV than prevent it. Out of fear of being associated with AIDS, HIV-positive individuals sometimes deny that they have the condition. This means that people affected by HIV do not bother to protect their own health and the health of others using necessary methods such as using condoms or disposable syringes, but focus more on hiding their illness from others.
Discrimination associated with AIDS means that people rarely want to be tested for HIV, which increases the risk of them contaminating other people without even being aware that they are infected.
In their personal lives, the discrimination associated with HIV can lead to poor self esteem. However, the discovery of the illness can cause an identity crisis and concerns about the future. The patient feels useless, like an invalid, unproductive, and potentially like they are a risk to others. Many people affected by HIV decide to give up their jobs, social lives, family relationships etc.
It is therefore important to remember that HIV is only an infection and not a moral judgement or a punishment for their behaviour. It is only a virus that is transmitted in a certain way.
For many people, forgiving themselves for having contracted the infection is a long and painful process, which could require the help of support groups or psychological therapy.
To combat discrimination, it is essential for sufferers to work on themselves to combat their fears and their own discrimination. By taking care of themselves, undergoing regular tests, listening to advice from doctors and finding out about treatments, the patient grows to accept their illness and is also more able to face other people.

Last updated: 14/03/2019

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