It is a six letter word but capable of taking someone to their grave, thus it should be avoided by all costs! No one gains or benefits from discriminating against a colleague because of his/her status.
It is a high time we stop being wild and have human character, love and care unconditionally. It is really painful to push someone to the grave when you are still in a position to hold his hand!
I am sharing this from a life experience of what I initially went through before finding the strength to deal with stigma head on. Stigma is not only talking, cursing or directly attacking someone. Even the little things we do or how we act tells a lot. We need to be careful not to offend or hurt our colleagues unknowingly.
Despite the boldness I have today, I went through a lot because of stigma. I personally stigmatized myself and developed a notion that should people know about my status, they would discriminate against me. Whether it turned out to be true or not, that was not only a wrong thought, but the worst thought I ever had.
People should refrain from such conclusions; a real fighter fights from the front and not from behind.
Stigma (be it what I experienced or what I thought I would experience) had all sorts of negative impacts on me, I may mention some of them but can't be exhaustive since it was a series where one impact gave rise to another.
These are some of the challenges that stigmatized people go through and mark you, some of these affect even the 'veterans' of stigma.
Isolated and rejected
A person feel isolated and rendered of no worth;he/she finds it hard if not impossible to freely interact with other people since no one is willing to have association with an infected person.
A person feels very discouraged to an extend he might opt to stop taking medication because no one is there to support or care for him. Defaulting is a clear indication of giving up in life.
° Resist access to help
A person finds it hard to seek help because he knows he will get hurt in the process and if it is an emergency issue,he might not get attended to.
It ruins the relationship between people such as family or friendly ties since stigma acts as a barrier.
A person may get offended from the way he is being addressed or attended since no one shows some concern!
A person's health gradually deteriorate due to depression and poor feeding.
Not everybody is willing to attend to an HIV positive person and this lead to poor services when being attended to. The notion of deliberately offering poor services to these people believing that that worth nothing should STOP!
When stigmatized, no one have peace at heart and always depressed.
With a negative mindset,a person sees no good in life,feels worthless and only sees death as ' the better option '
Spirit of revenge
Stigma creates bitterness among the concerned parties and the infected person may use all means to ensure the other party or his family member(s) get infected so that he can too bear the burden.
With current state of stigma, no one can even attempt going for HIV testing simply because suppose he tests positive,the 'claws' of stigma are readily waiting.
Not starting medication
For fear of being noticed that one is taking ARVs ,a person may opt not to start medication at all which will be a great risk.
Let us love and care for the people living with HIV. They are part of us.
Always be there:
- to give them a shoulder to lean on in times of difficulty.
- to ensure they adhere to medication.
- to ensure they take a balanced diet with plenty of water.
- to assist do some exercises to keep their bodies fit.
- to encourage them so that they develop a positive mindset to see live a head of them.
Compiled by: Kimutai Kemboi