HIV Stigma and discrimination

HIV Stigma and discrimination

What is HIV-related stigma?
  1. Can be described as a process of devaluing people living with or associated with HIV and AIDS. HIV-related stigma refers to a real or perceived negative feeling to a person or a group of persons (in this case the PLHIV) by virtue of his or her HIV positive status.
  2. It’s a situation where a person is ignored, socially excluded and treated differently from others because of their HIV positive status. AIDS disfigures, so stigma increases as the symptoms of the disease become more visible

It is the unfair, unfavorable and unjust treatment based on bias regarding race, colour, sex, perceived HIV status, disease etc. which is characterized by rejection, isolation, denial, discrediting, devaluing, excluding etc. External or enacted stigma refers to the actual experience of discrimination such as harassment, categorizing, accusation, punishment, blame, exclusion, ridicule, or resentment.

  1. Out of fear and ignorance, some people think negatively about others because of their race, colour, sex or HIV status. This is called stigma.
  2.  hey may then label, reject or treat them differently. This is called discrimination
  3.  Discrimination involves unfair treatment and isolation.
  4. Sometimes stigma can be self-directed, when you have low self-esteem.
  5. Stigma is harmful to affected people and can make them feel sad, rejected and hopeless.
  6.  Stigma increases the spread of HIV because it can prevent people from going for testing, treatment, care and support.
  1. Some people just don’t know enough; for example they may think when you shake hands with an HIV infected person, you also get infected!
  2. Some people just fear, even when there is no reason to fear
  1. Self-stigma is when you hate yourself, what you are, your appearance, your condition, your situation etc. A person with HIV may impose negative beliefs and actions on themselves, characterized by
  1. Feeling that others are judging them, so they isolate themselves
  2.  Believing the negative attitudes, reactions and actions from others.
  3.  Failing to accept themselves and feeling worthlessness
  4. Always blaming themselves for their condition
  5. Losing hope and having fear of dying soon
  6. Having suicidal thoughts
  7. Developing vengeful feelings: Wanting other people to suffer the same way they are suffering.
  1. Stigma reflects an attitude
  2.  Discrimination is an act or behavior
  1. Create a conducive environment for discussion on issues related to HIV infection u Explore the possible sources of stigma in a school context
  2.  Identify the challenges that a student faces in trying to cope with stigma
  3. Support learners to identify ways and means of overcoming stigma u Be a role model, challenge stigma when you observe it.
  4. Be a role model, challenge stigma when you observe it

Disclosure is defined as the act of informing another person or persons of the HIV-positive status of an individual. Disclosure is a process where a learners’ HIV sero- status is revealed to household/family members and other important people in the learners’ life. As teachers, you are expected to provide disclosure support to learners living with or affected by HIV within your setting. Disclosure can also be defined as a situation where information about learners’ HIV sero-status is shared. Sometimes disclosure is not very easy and a learner may go through a long process

Disclosure counselling is a confidential conversation between two (or more) people that assists (empowers) one to work through issues related to disclosing one’s HIV status. Why disclosure counselling is necessary:

  1. Enables the adolescent become aware of the possible consequences of disclosure.
  2.  Empowers the adolescent to take the step of sharing his/her status with a trusted person who can provide ongoing psycho-social and other support.
  1. Non-disclosure: Adolescent is unaware of his/her infection
  2.  Partial disclosure: Partial disclosure: Partial disclosure involves teaching an adolescent about his/her body and how the immune system works before using the actual words “HIV” or “AIDS.” Partial disclosure is useful for building a context in which HIV disclosure can be more meaningful for children.
  3.  Full disclosure: The primary care giver has told the adolescent about his/her HIV status and the medication. It is voluntary.

Disclosure of HIV status enables an individual to begin dealing with the issue of reducing transmission and obtaining support.


  1. They can access care, support and treatment services more easily
  2.  They can adopt safer behaviours to protect their family
  3. It creates a sense of empowerment and control over the virus as the person is able to talk with a friend or counsellor for advice and support
  4.  The person can feel confident and not have to worry about having to disclose u The learners may be able to influence others to avoid infection
  5.  Openness about HIV status can stop rumors and suspicion
  1. Fear of stigma and rejection
  2. Fear of possible conflicts
  3.  Ignorance about HIV infection and disease
  4.  Fear of shame and public opinion
  5. Fear of blame and possible breakdown of relationships
  6. Fear of breaking confidentiality