As people living with HIV, we go through a series of challenges, one after the other. Testing positive is a big issue and as we try to cope with the situation another life threatening issue arises; stigma.
Stigma sounds like a simple word but it is intense enough to take someone's life. It is an 'opportunistic infection' on its own that can only heal on bold people or those people who can take the bull by its own horns. The weak souls will find it hard to fight.
As we know, stigma comes in two phases; personal stigma and stigma from the people surrounding us.
Personal stigma is the dominant phase and self-created! A person makes assumptions and perceptions on how the people around are seeing him. These perceptions might be true yes but not with the intensity we think and so we can easily overcome since it is self-induced. We just have to look at ourselves as ourselves, having no illusions of how other people are looking at us.
Stigma from the surrounding cannot be stopped but can be tamed. People fear talking because of the perceptions and prejudgments they already have and are so certain that discrimination is going to happen.
From a number of positive persons I have interacted with, both one on one and on social media, they have varied reactions. A number of them fear disclosure not because they have encountered any form of discrimination but because they fear being discriminated against.
Others have opened up and the reaction they got is contrary to what they expected. In fact 70% percent never experienced discrimination as they thought while about 30% did.
The majority of those who have disclosed are now living a stress free life since nothing is haunting them from inside. They have all the peace courtesy of disclosure.
You know what, once you come out, no one will ever bother to talk about you and even if they do, you will not feel even a pinch. But if you are quiet and people start murmurs, you will never feel at peace. Thanks to those people who are looking at us from a humane perspective. They take us as brothers and sisters irrespective of our status.
We cannot continue singing stigma, stigma, stigma, let us change the tune to disclosure!
Keep it #talktokemboi