Throughout this blog series I will be examining how HIV and AIDS continue to be one of the most unrightfully stigmatized health concerns in medicine. Through the social science lenses of anthropology and public health, my blogs will create a discussion around the unwavering prejudice and discrimination that continues to leave HIV/AIDS infected individuals forgotten, pushed to the sidelines and without care.
Prejudice of any kind within society stratify individuals, limits compassion and prompts misunderstanding. Despite medical and social progress, the habitual pattern of discrimination towards those with HIV/AIDS lingers, and will continue to do so if members of society remain unable to let go of false and harmful stigmas.
HIV emerged in the United states in early 1980’s and rapidly spread its way across the country through mysterious and frightening health outbreaks. The epidemic spurred great fear and distrust, for there was little initial knowledge of what it was or how it spread. As it struck particularly strong in homosexual communities, inaccurate assumptions regarding susceptibility and transmission evolved, ostracizing guy culture and way of life.
Stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS exist worldwide and finds ways to manifest itself differently throughout counties, communities, religious groups and individuals. In the U.S. consequences of HIV/AIDS stigmas effects income, healthcare options, marriage options, childbearing options and more.
Living in a society filled with these stigmas causes individuals with HIV/AIDS to be increasingly marginalized and without the ability to live their lives openly and productively. Stigmas create barriers and jeopardize not only those with HIV/AIDS but ALL members of society. Everyone in some way, subtly or significantly, is affected by HIV/AIDS related issues and therefore suffer from the subsequent effects rooted in discrimination.
By way of this blog discussion on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, I hope to create a dialogue which breaks down decade long misconceptions and educates society on the realities of a life with HIV/AIDS. Advocacy for social justice and becoming aware of our own implicit biases are the first steps in creating more inclusive and understanding society as a whole.
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