Fear of stigma perpetuates stigma.

Published 15, Mar, 2018
Author // Kimutai Kemboi,

From Kenya, Kimutai Kemboi on self stigma and the healthy benefits of disclosure

Fear of stigma perpetuates stigma.

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

About the Author

Kimutai Kemboi,

Kimutai Kemboi,

"I am Kimutai Kemboi, turning 26 on 9th of April 2017. Currently I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science at Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. 

"I’m HIV positive and under medication but doing well health wise since I have accepted to live positively, adhere to medication and practice a healthy lifestyle so that HIV does not overwhelm me. Besides my studies, I work as a volunteer to create HIV awareness and sensitivity in the community, both face to face and through social media platforms, especially Facebook.

"I opted to do this awareness-raising because I want to have an HIV-free society and save my generation from perishing."