The Fear the AIDS Stigma Brings
Those who are aware of their own AIDS diagnosis must make important decisions
regarding not only their own treatment and well-being, they must make that all important decision regarding
disclosing the fact that they are
HIV positive to those that are close to them. Those who they
are intimate with, those who they live with, those they come in contact with on a daily basis. Coworkers, family
members, close friends and neighbors will want to know why you are in pain emotionally, and mentally.
Especially if your symptoms have made you feel physically ill to where it is apparent to those around you; they
will want to be aware of your illness and how to help you. Those that they have been sexually intimate with will
need to know that they have been exposed to the HIV virus and are now at risk and need to be tested.
There is a stigma when the general population hears the word – AIDS. In their
minds they hear the words, “suffering”, “death”, “pain”, and “anguish”. People fear becoming infected by those who
are already HIV positive. People fear touching them, eating alongside them, some even fear working near them, or
being in the same room with a person with AIDS. People fear what they do not know; they fear the unknown. That fear
turn onto the person who has AIDS. What breaks the cycle of fear?
Those who have AIDS also live in fear. They fear that they will be discriminated against because so many persons
with AIDS have been over the years. They read about others being discriminated in the workplace, and regarding
housing applications, and within their own families because the disease is so riddled with fear-induced stigma.
They fear that they will be outcasts to the very people they care the most about..
Did You Know?
The signs of symptoms of AIDS or HIV are different depending on what stage the
infection is in. When a person is first infected they may have flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph
nodes but recover quickly.
This flu-like sickness may occur two to six weeks after being infected and is not always associated
with the possibility of HIV infection. Even if you do not have any of these symptoms until years
later, you can still infect other people with the virus.
Once your body is invaded with the HIV or AIDS virus, your immune system is under attack. Even
though you may not be having any symptoms, you can still pass the disease on to another person.
Meanwhile, even if you are symptom free, your cells that coordinate your immune system are slowly
You can remain this way for as many as ten years but during that time you will begin it experience
more frequent infections as your immune cells are destroyed.
You may experience chronic symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, shortness of breath, cough,
fever, and unexplained weight loss.
Information and understanding is what breaks the stigma that is producing such fear in those who have AIDS and
those who come in contact with them. Any fatal disease creates the same fear. People do not want to die. People do
not want to suffer. Ignorance and being afraid to disclose the fact that you are HIV positive is what contributes
to the spread of the HIV virus. Disclosure and gaining knowledge about AIDS is what allows others to give aid,
compassion and support to those who have AIDS.
There are many worldwide organizations that are in existence to give council to and support to those who are
suffering from this fatal disease. Organizations are set up to give out information to not only AIDS patients, but
to their sexual partners and to their families.
Aids Organizations include: local, national, worldwide, awareness and prevention, fundraising,
research and treatment, support services, organizations for youth, prison inmate, political action, global funding,
physician networks, and much more.
If you have increased risk factors for developing AIDS, you should have a test done
regularly every year.
There are Websites that give support and information for AIDS patients, their families, employers,
and communities. These websites inform, lead fundraising efforts, conduct seminars and provide online communities
for people to gather, share and discuss issues surrounding AIDS. Three popular online Websites are: www.aids.org, www.aidsonline.com, www.aidsinfo.nih.gov