The Effects of Stigma on Controlling Hiv and Aids

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The effects of stigma on controlling HIV and AIDS

This essay aims to explain the social ideologies of prejudice and stigmatisation towards individuals infected with HIV/AIDS. It will discuss the issues surrounding the control of the HIV/AIDS disease and examine differential theories to explain the implementations of social discources on those who fear stigmatisation, due to their condition. HIV-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, ‘people and objects associated with it’ (Walker, L. 2007:79). Due to the effects of stigmatisation individuals carrying HIV/AIDS can be ostracised by family and the surrounding community. Stigmatisation towards HIV can be perceived to cause individual psychological damage. This can be seen to negatively affect the success of public health education towards the issues of HIV, and the acknowledgement of acceptance of individual sufferers within society. This causes a negative effect on the control and treatment of HIV. AIDS stigma and discrimination exist worldwide, although they are differently persecuted across countries, communities, religious groups and individuals, ‘the social, cultural, economic and political reaction to AIDS is as central to the global challenges of AIDS itself (Mann 1987 cited in Walker, L. 2007: 80). Community level stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS is found all over the world. A community’s reaction to somebody living with HIV/AIDS can have a profound effect on that person’s life. If the reaction is hostile a person may be ostracised and discriminated against and may even be forced to leave their home, or have to change their daily activities such as work or socialising to prevent degradation. Parker and Aggleton (2003) describe that HIV/AIDS stigma exacerbates pre- existing social divisions by stereotyping and blaming marginalised groups as being responsible for the spread of disease. An example of this can relate to African, ethnic minorities or gay men. This can be seen as pre-existing societal out groups. Thus meaning, stigmatisation can be identified to fall upon those groups who can be defined to not be the majority or the normal within society. Deacon et al (2005 cited in Walker, L. 2007:84) explains that ‘African immigrants that move to the UK are frequently blamed for the increase’ in the un-controllability of disease transmission, and have been deemed to be the sole cause of HIV/AIDS illness. This was often associated to the view that, ‘in Africa, the most prevalent diseases are those which may be characterized as diseases of poverty’ ( Kibirige, J. 1997: 4). In some societies stigma can be seen as, Parker and Aggleton (2003 cited in Walker, L. 2007: 81) suggests, to ‘always lead to discrimination which has the effect of reproducing relations of social inequality that are advantageous to the dominant class, thus maintaining the status quo’. This can be related to Gramsci’s (1937) theory of hegemony, by producing, reproducing and maintaining social inequality. In this example those infected with HIV/AIDS, will result in a ‘springboard for activism’ (Deacon et al., 2005:18 cited in Walker, L. 2007:81). It can be seen to be a positive response as minorities will challenge governing bodies to deal with the social discrimination and inequalities attributed to HIV/AIDS, therefore attempting to balance the status quo and bring light on the associated issues surrounding HIV/AIDS stigmatisation in terms of the controllability of the disease. This effect can be described by what Deacon (2005) states a ‘catalyst for change and social justice’. Pierret, J. and Carricaburu, D (1995; 16 ) research found that individuals felt the need to challenge society’s preconceptions of HIV/AIDS and one of their interviewees states “I want to advance an idea. I believe there are ideas we have to get across to people, messages that are not always easy but that can make things change. I don't want to accept the idea...
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