Thursday, 18 December 2014


We read so much about stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. This does happen but is only part of the picture.

The key site of stigma and discrimination is in the heart of the sufferer. Suddenly in their own minds, diagnosis has reduced them to 25% of the person they used to be.

The bottom has dropped out of their world. They can no longer marry the person they love and are afraid to tell them of their positive status.  Better to say they have incurable TB, the residue of infection 2 years ago.

Their loved one may tell other people and suddenly the news is all around. The person is afraid to tell their friends as they feel they will drop to 25%. They fear they will become a 25% brother, sister, son or daughter. It may not happen but they are afraid to find out.

The problem becomes worse if the news gets out at the work place or at school. People are quietly warned not to have relationships with such people. Suddenly the person has no place in the football team. Promotion does not come.

I have counselled dozens of people with HIV who feel they have lost the status of their own soul. They see that their only option in life is to marry another HIV infected person. They do not want to make the local care group as their social centre. They do not want to spend their lives with a group of HIV sufferers.

"Excuse me but I am HIV positive. If you are HIV positive too, will you marry me?" 

The key to stigma is in the soul of the sufferer. Family and friends are mere outsiders. Families can love but still make excuses for infection of their loved one. They know there is a risk of other people realizing they have been infected and seeking compensation or pay back.

Sorcery can be the key excuse. Then some innocent person has to pay.

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