November 6, 2013
HIV stigma is one of the most important issues that we need to take action on in our communities. We need to understand HIV Stigma and stop it from happening.
HIV stigma refers to HIV-related shame, fear, prejudice, discrimination and guilt that exists in the gay community and our broader societies. It affects the health and well-being of both HIV positive and HIV negative men. HIV stigma prevents guys from getting tested which results in more of us not knowing our HIV status. HIV stigma makes it harder for us to negotiate sex with guys who may have a different HIV status than we do. HIV stigma can create divisions within the gay community between HIV-positive and HIV-negative men, leading to further isolation and marginalization of gay men living with HIV in our communities. It has many negative impacts on HIV-positive men, such as social isolation, shame, guilt, depression and other health issues. HIV stigma can result in some HIV-positive guys feeling that they need to hide their HIV status to avoid being shamed, rejected, discriminated against, and even being targets of violence.
As a community, there is much for us to learn and unlearn about HIV. There are ways that we can fight HIV stigma in our lives and in our communities. We need to keep breaking the silence surrounding HIV and challenge the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that contribute to HIV stigma. We all deserve respect and understanding.
For more information on HIV stigma:
This website explores the ways that HIV stigma plays out in gay communities. www.HIVstigma.com
ENUF is an Australian campaign that aims to seek the experiences of both stigma and resilience from people living with HIV. ENUF is a call to end HIV stigma. www.enuf.org.au
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