|The early days of the HIV epidemic gave rise to
two epidemics: one that was viral in nature and another composed of fear, loathing and blame. Three decades into the epidemic, it remains clear: |
HIV and AIDS doesn't discriminate; People do.
Since AIDS first appeared,
we’ve made considerable progress in reducing new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. But our lack of progress in combatting the epidemic of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion undermines our efforts addressing the diagnosis of HIV, and treatment
and care of people living with the virus. The persistence of stigma in the context of HIV also causes immense human hardship and diminishes us as a global community.
Since the beginnings of the HIV epidemic, there has been a tendency to conflate
stigma and discrimination. However, while the two are related, they are also distinct. Stigma is a social phenomenon that elevates certain groups over others and steadily devalues entire groups of people.
Yet, looking back on the past three decades
of the epidemic, hope remains: HIV also gave rise to resilience, spirit and determination. So how do we, the HIV community – people whose lives are touched by HIV professionally or personally, who are living with HIV, who are vulnerable to HIV or who
know someone affected by HIV – move beyond rhetoric to action in getting to the heart of stigma?