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What Does HIV/AIDS Stigma Look Like in Your Life?

November 21, 2011

 14/34 

Tina R. Sigler

Tina R. Sigler, Mujeres Unidas, Inc., San Antonio, Texas

When I think of HIV stigma, it's really such a myriad, a bagful of differences, misunderstandings and miscommunications. I saw this many times in my previous job -- I worked as a liaison between technical and non-technical people -- and I think that's one of the many challenges we have. I hope we can make some better inroads, being a liaison between those who understand and don't understand what HIV is and what we can do about it.




This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Natalie Wright (New York) Sat., Oct. 5, 2013 at 10:52 am EDT
I am a 68 year old Black lady who has loss everything. I have HIV
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Comment by: Jack (Las Vegas) Tue., Aug. 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm EDT
For almost half of my life I have been positive. I tested positive in 1990. Diagnosed with full blown AIDS in 1993. I could be the poster boy for the AIDS OI's. I have had just about everyone of the at least once, if not twice.

In my life, I ran into the stigma attached with being HIV positive in all areas of my life. From dating, medical professionals, friends and family. I have had dentists that did not want to treat me. Which precautions with me are no different than with any other person. To doctors and nurses that covered up every inch of their body with latex to treat me.

I have had friends that did not understand the I was sill the same gay guy that I always was. Just now I had health issues. Part of my family chose not to ever speak to me again. Being gay was bad enough for some of them. But being HIV positive was more than they could handle.

Pharma staff that would not even try to find the newest medications on the market. Sometimes I go the answer. I do not know what this is so I can not get for you.

Dating, well that poses it own challenges. When do I disclose? How and what do I say.

All I can say after 23 years living HIV positive is I have learned a lot about people and life.
Many of my friends are gone. I am still here. Trying to make it all work. Being a long term survivor at 51 has been more than interesting. In life, you make it work for you. Even when the part of the world does not make it easy for you to survive.
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Comment by: John J (Philadelphia, PA) Thu., Aug. 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm EDT
HIV stigma is an over riding part of my life. Because I am a surgeon and did invasive procedures, the government wanted me to leave my profession. At the very least, disclosure became mandatory at the behest of various surgical specialty boards. Once patients know you are poz, who is going to continue coming to you? For me it meant giving up the profession I had trained 16 years for. My friends were a mixed bag and I knew many I could not tell. Sexual partners are few and far between. The only respite from that is on HIV sites like Voltage. My partner left me. I can't afford to live on disability the way I lived when I was working. I have found the straight world to be a lot kinder than the gay community regarding my status. I suddenly went from me to a "dirty" person as poz people are called in Philadelphia.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Ivan V Sanchez (Seattle, WA) Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 at 2:30 am EDT
I have been HIV positive for over 30 years and I have been treated by several doctors who are poz as well. As soon as you overcome this stage of self-pitty, get to work helping a community that needs you! There plenty of doctors who have continued been productive after diagnosis. You can become one of those who are making a difference. Just try!
Comment by: Billy (NC) Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm EDT
Hi John, I wish I could find a P.C.P. or any Dr. that was in the same boat as me. Not wishing this on anyone, but I would have no reservations with a + doctor.
Comment by: Bryan (Wenonah, NJ) Thu., Aug. 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm EDT
When people ask me if I'm "clean," I respond "No, I only dust once a month." Definitely check out SINPhiladelphia! This is a great social group for HIV+ guys that has its own Yahoo group.


Comment by: Shirley Hilda (Leesburg, FL) Thu., May. 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm EDT
When i was diagnosed 2007 and prescribed Atripla which I still take - my infectious disease doctor was not very positive w/me. I have private insurance and she would after every visit suggest I utilize the community health services also she would never take the time to discuss HIV w/me finally the last visit culminated w/me firing her on the spot when she openly suggested in front of other patients and staff that I would be better served at the community health center because I was just like "those people" w/her voice dripping w/obvious disgust. Fortunately her boss was standing there so when I fired her there was no question the reason why. I then utilized my primary Dr. for everything which took months before he informed me that the infectious disease Dr. office acquired a new partner. When I met her she was a miracle and I just bawled my ass off. She is now my Dr. but because of that awful time I am not very comfortable sharing - I am an introvert and already somewhat isolated and I am afraid to be more isolated than ever.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Patrick (Orlando) Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 at 7:49 am EDT
I certaintly hope that the practice this so called doctor works at has fired her as well.


Comment by: Jim S. (N.E. Texas ) Fri., Aug. 24, 2012 at 1:33 am EDT
I have felt the stigma for 25 years in doctors offices by staff saying we have another one. To doctors and dentist who refused to see me, and mostly by my church, friends. There are no support groups are anything here. Your isolated, persecuted and mostly my children want even bring my grand kids by to see me because they are afraid I will somehow give them something. I've been so depressed, and so angry. Confidentially laws gave me this because I assumed if you tested with someone and paid for their test they would tell you their status. Now it's completely reversed if you don't tell your a felon which I always do tell. My final days on my job were pure hell in 93. I could not believe what my friends I thought were saying about me when I was in a bath stall. Even HEP C does not have the stigma HIV does. Mental issues don't have the stigma. We are not treated like victims we are treated like demons cast from society to live in isolation.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Natalie Wright (Bronx, New York) Sat., Oct. 5, 2013 at 10:48 am EDT
I am a 68 year old female who has HIV. Only my doctor knows.


Comment by: geoffrey n. (Malawi) Mon., Aug. 6, 2012 at 10:55 am EDT
It is those people with HIV that start the game of stima by isolating themselves from other people when they form the so called HIV/AIDS clubs. If we just accept and live as normal human beings, there would be no noise about stigmatisation
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Wayne (Sydney, Australua) Tue., Aug. 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm EDT
As a PLWHA long term survivor I find your comment that PLWHA start the stigma, offensive. Please define what you mean by "HIV/AIDS clubs"?
Comment by: John Jones (Philadelphia, PA) Tue., Aug. 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm EDT
I hate to get into a who started it first discussion, but although I have never felt any discrimination from any doctor or dentist, I have it it a great deal from gay friends who don't know. They bring up the question of is he "clean or dirty" whenever someone name is brought up. It is the negative gay community, who once helped us and who now are our worst enemies.
Comment by: Scott (San Diego, CA) Tue., Aug. 6, 2013 at 10:55 pm EDT
Geoffrey, I am so furious with you comment I don't know where to begin. I'll start by saying you must be very lucky to have not experienced any stigma and I hope that you don't in the future as well, but my feeling is you just haven't met the right person or organization or employer yet. I knew about HIV organizations or groups if you will, but I did not full participate or go to any until after I had been discriminated against at work, lost my job, and went from earning $120,000.00 a year to about $6,000.00 plus $200 a month in food stamps which I have to fight to keep every month. For six months I lived with no electric, and no water in sunny California. It is a shame that I am running out of characters so I will let this go because your post is not worthy of any more of my time.
Comment by: Scott (San Diego, CA) Tue., Aug. 6, 2013 at 10:55 pm EDT
Geoffrey, I am so furious with you comment I don't know where to begin. I'll start by saying you must be very lucky to have not experienced any stigma and I hope that you don't in the future as well, but my feeling is you just haven't met the right person or organization or employer yet. I knew about HIV organizations or groups if you will, but I did not full participate or go to any until after I had been discriminated against at work, lost my job, and went from earning $120,000.00 a year to about $6,000.00 plus $200 a month in food stamps which I have to fight to keep every month. For six months I lived with no electric, and no water in sunny California. It is a shame that I am running out of characters so I will let this go because your post is not worthy of any more of my time.


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