It’s time to end HIV Stigma
Ending HIV stigma happens when our community comes together.
ACON’s latest campaign, It’s Time to Think Positive About HIV, showcases the kind of allyship that can end stigma, through the reflections and connections between people living with HIV and their HIV negative allies.
It’s time to think positive about HIV and end HIV stigma.
What is HIV stigma?
HIV stigma is a complex issue that manifests itself in many ways. It can stem from fear combined with a lack of understanding, empathy or knowledge of HIV.
In some ways, you can compare HIV stigma to the way homophobic people treat the LGBTQ+ community – it is any act that treats people living with HIV (PLHIV) as less than because of their HIV positive status.
Stigma doesn’t just affect PLHIV, it can also be directed to and impact their partners, friends, families, and the broader gay community.
It’s time to come together and accept who we love.
HIV Stigma for People Living with HIV
HIV stigma affects people living with HIV in more ways than one.
HIV stigma can be perceived based on past and current experiences, such as making sense of words like “clean only” on hook-up profiles.
These perceptions of HIV stigma can then lead to stigma being anticipated, meaning it is expected to occur, whether it is grounded in truth or not. This can lead to feelings of anxiousness or isolation.
At its worse, HIV stigma can become internalised, whereby a person might start to believe some of these stigmatising messages about themselves.
It’s time to update your profile.
HIV stigma in the community
HIV stigma can form in varying degrees within the community.
It can be a cruelly worded rejection on Grindr as the result of someone living with HIV disclosing their status. It may be a joke among friends at a party at the expense of PLHIV, or it can be prejudging someone’s character for having acquired HIV.
Some people also have trouble overcoming fears about HIV. As an example, the proven science showing that someone living with HIV who is on effective HIV treatment and cannot transmit HIV to a sexual partner might be impossible for some to accept.
It’s time to trust the science.
Be an Ally
For people who are HIV negative, there is a lot that can be done to make a change.
Being an ally to people living with HIV is a powerful act that reduces HIV stigma. This can be in many areas such as hooking up, in our friendships and relationships, in the community, and in our families.
When your friend or brother reveals their HIV positive status, respect their disclosure and show your support. When you hear someone make a discriminatory comment about HIV, call it out and help educate them.
It’s time to be a mate and an ally.
A Practical Guide to Being a Better HIV Ally
Inspired to make a change? For practical guidance and useful strategies to being an ally to people in your life living with HIV, read or download our guide It’s Time to Think Positive About HIV – A Practical Guide to Being a Better HIV Ally.
The Think Positive campaign was funded by Gilead Sciences Inc. All other web content on Ending HIV is funded by the NSW Department of Health.