General Article Stigma and discrimination

Topic Selected: AIDS & HIV
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The term stigma refers to any attribute that marks an individual as being unacceptably different from other people. Stigmatising attitudes contrast those who are ‘normal’ with those who are seen as ‘abnormal’ or ‘deviant’: they can therefore be seen as part of a process of social control. HIV is not the only medical condition which has been stigmatised (others have included tuberculosis, cancer, depression and other mental health issues).

Within black African communities, pejorative understandings of people with HIV are often linked to perceptions of their sexual behaviour (promiscuity, prostitution, homosexuality, etc.) as well as to fears that the infection is readily transmissible. Moreover, HIV infection may be seen as a ‘death sentence’, in the light of previous experiences in African countries when treatments were not available.,

HIV stigma results in HIV being perceived as an issue that affects ‘other people’ and makes informed discussion of the topic difficult. As such, it...

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