Time to break HIV/AIDS stigma

Published: Wednesday | December 4, 2013 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1, and every year we talk about the Jamaican statistics.

It is estimated that 32,000 Jamaicans wake up every day and continue to live with HIV. It is also estimated that 50 per cent of those living with HIV don't even know they have been infected.

We may not think we can do anything to turn the tide, to reduce infections or to improve the lives of those already living with the virus but think of this: Stigma and discrimination contribute to HIV infections.

HIV-phobia, homophobia and transphobia, racism, classism and sexism all fuel the epidemic by eroding the self-esteem of those living with HIV, of the LGBT, sex workers, other minority groups, and of women.

RISKY LIFESTYLE

This can drive people, especially youth, to take risks in their lives in search of love, of acceptance or for a release from the shame they may feel about who they are and the pressure of the implicit and explicit discrimination they face every day.

By tolerating bullying and discrimination in our families, schools and communities, we are contributing to the spread of HIV in Jamaica;

By reducing their effects, we help those who are most vulnerable.

HIV doesn't discriminate, so why do we?

Even though World AIDS Day is behind us, Jamaica AIDS Support urges you to do your part and stand in solidarity rather than in judgement.

TYRONE ELLIS

Prevention Coordinator

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

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