People with HIV can now live healthier and longer lives. Even though their quality of life has greatly improved in recent years due to innovative treatments, there is a major challenge: HIV-positive people often face stigma and discrimination in everyday life.
What are stigma and discrimination?
With regard to HIV, one talks of stigma when people are put in the negative drawer and condemned only because of their HIV infection. The term discrimination is slightly more specific and describes the individual discrimination of individuals due to HIV infection.
Where does this widespread negative evaluation of people with HIV come from?
This is often because a large part of society still holds old images of the 1980s: gay HIV-positive people who fell ill with AIDS, could not be treated appropriately at the time, and died.
Knowledge about the current possibilities of innovative HIV treatments and what it really means to live with HIV has not yet reached everyone.
blur from within
Stigma can not only come from outside, but can also arise from within HIV positive people. If you blame yourself, feel ashamed or judge yourself for being infected with HIV, it is called self stigma.
What are the effects of stigma and discrimination?
The results of the research project “Positive Voices 2.0” recently published by the German AIDS ed, show that stigma and discrimination against people with HIV can affect their quality of life as well. More than half of HIV positive people reported that prejudice against HIV affects their own lives (1),
For example, many people with HIV fear that those around them will find out about their infection. This may lead to some actions designed to hide the HIV status.
This can lead to ongoing, unconscious stress and thus negatively affect quality of life and mental health. At the latest at this point, you must realize that this way of dealing with things is not conducive to your own psychological well-being in the long run.
Finding good ways to deal with HIV
It is beneficial if, as an HIV positive person, you can deal with your own infection openly and confidently and thus counteract stigma and discrimination. Not everyone can or wants to do what is perfectly fine. However, as soon as concerns and apprehensions emerge, it is important to remain vigilant and speak openly to a doctor.
In addition, as an HIV positive person, you can see a wide range of therapy options with your doctor and discuss whether there is a therapy that is better for your own life and can be applied to everyday life. can be more easily integrated.
For more information about living with HIV, as well as personal stories from people who are HIV positive, see www.livlife.de
(1) German Aidsschiff, “Positive Voices 2.0” survey on HIV-related discrimination, https://hiv-discrimination.de/sites/default/files/documents/broschuere_finale_version.pdf Last seen: August 2022
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