What does the future for our children look like, if as a society we are unable to move beyond stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV/AIDS? Furthermore, what does this entail for those who have been pushed to the sidelines due to this societal inequality? As stigma and discrimination fuel the continuation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is crucial to consider the implications of a future with no signs of eliminating harmful social prejudices.
People living with HIV//AIDS are constantly discouraged to come forward to receive testing or treatment for their disease due to the stigma they feel they will be forced to face upon taking these actions. This form of internalized stigma puts not only themselves at risk but also those who they chose to come in contact with sexually. This avoidance of treatment jeopardizes all sexually active individuals either directly or indirectly.
The population groups who are forced to face this stigma most disproportionately are already worse off socially and HIV just adds to the inequality they experience on a daily basis. Without open conversations, increases in testing, and improvements in access to quality care, the most at risk population groups will only continue to marginalized and left behind.
HIV and AIDS is a disease which hits all, but most significantly and disproportionately targets impoverished minorities. To begin a broader cultural shift towards increased equality, there must be a deep focus on eliminating detrimental stigmas. The gap between the rich and the poor will only continue to increase and traumatically leaves those facing economic and social oppression worse off than ever before.