Pop Culture: Struggling With HIV Stigma

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Struggling with HIV Stigma
HIV/AIDS, a severe epidemic of this era, is an incurable disease till date. HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system or the defense system. The virus makes human body vulnerable to diseases that would otherwise be curable. AIDS, that stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is the last stage of the HIV symptom. Even though no cure for HIV is found yet, the virus can be kept in control by proper treatment and therapy. However, social stigmas on HIV creates obstacle in this. Stigma is social belief based on some stereotypes, not valid facts. According to Erving Goffman, “The phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute which is deeply discredited by his/her society
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In addition to religious stigma, unfair judgment based on gender also exists, affecting particularly women the most. Women are more vulnerable to HIV because of sexual exploitation and violation. In such circumstances, “Intimate partner violence in relationships often hinder a woman’s ability to negotiate condom use and protect herself from HIV” (“Gender Inequality and HIV”). Intimate partner violence is sexual or psychological harm done by a spouse or partner. In most poverty ridden societies women have less right in choosing their own partners. Women usually hardly have the power to reject sexual advances, rape and assault run rampant both in and out of marriage. So when the man, consensual or otherwise, is infected, the women probably will be too. A pretty safe solution to reduce the chance of getting infected is taking protection during intercourse. Ironically sexual protections as condoms are highly stigmatised in so many places. Not only women in general but women working as prostitutes also suffer from this severely. To quote from Stratton , as he states in his book that people doesn’t like the use of condoms when they hire sex-workers, “If I try to make them use it, they will go to somebody else.(102)” The way of preventing the virus transmission is blocked by another stigma. Thus, sex-workers are highly exposed to the probability of getting infected and HIV spreads even more. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women are highly stigmatized when it comes to HIV. In Chanda’s Secret ,“...She laid a curse on me” (Stratton 107), a man blames his wife as the virus transmitter when it’s actually the other way around. ” Regardless of who is infected first, women always has to bear the blame for spreading the disease. Majority of women, when blamed, stop going to treatment centres. So, in sexuality or discrimination, social stigma is always an obstacle in a woman's

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