When you hear that someone is positive for HIV, do you think that person probably deserved it? Do you think that person is dirty?
That’s HIV shaming—making someone feel ashamed of living with HIV.
In this week’s Sex and Sensibilities podcast, Rappler columnist Ana P. Santos chats with Laurindo Garcia about HIV shaming and its damaging effects.
Garcia, founder of B-Change, a social enterprise that uses social media platforms to educate young people about sexuality and sexual health, says HIV shaming has the harmful effect of silencing questions instead of fostering open discussions.
It isolates people and prevents them from seeking and accessing treatment like life saving anti-retroviral therapy and perpetuates the stigma and discrimination that surround HIV.
HIV shaming is rife in on-line spaces where anonymity gives people the audacity to say things they would not normally say to someone face to face.
“A common response or fear that people who have just been diagnosed is, ‘Will anybody ever accept me? Will I ever find a boyfriend? Nobody will want me.’ And I think that says a lot about our perceptions and how we view HIV,” said Garcia who has been living with HIV for more than a decade now.
Garcia discusses how we can form a welcoming, accepting environment for people at risk for HIV just by listening, by expressing empathy rather than judgement and by being accepting rather than simply tolerant.
Tune in to the podcast and learn more about HIV shaming and how you can be part of the solution to put an end to it.