Crushing HIV Stigma

Crush Stigma.

Stigma-Free Zone

Click the image above to view, print or download our flyer on crushing HIV Stigma.

HIV won’t end until stigma ends.

Fear of stigma and discrimination are often one of the main reasons why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status, and take medication to treat HIV. You may be contributing to HIV stigma and not even realize it.

Many factors can lead to HIV discrimination and stigma:

  • HIV is a disease that many people fear.
  • Some people still wrongly believe that they can catch HIV through casual contact, such as sharing a drinking glass or touching a toilet seat. This greatly increases their fear about being near people who are living with HIV.
  • Many people connect HIV and AIDS with behaviors that are already stigmatized, such as sex between men or injecting drugs.
  • Some people believe that having HIV or AIDS is the person’s own fault from hooking up too much or being promiscuous.

Unfortunately, HIV stigma fuels the epidemic.

  • It prevents people from talking about their HIV status with sex partners or people with whom they share needles.
  • Fear of rejection and worries about confidentiality also prevent many from getting tested for HIV.
  • This means they may spread HIV to others without knowing it.

If you’re part of the problem with HIV Stigma – stop it, period. If you feel stigmatized, speak up or seek help!

Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS has Behavioral Health programs in Phoenix that can help you cope with stigma, and a one-on-one, peer-based program also in Phoenix called Positive Action that can also help!

Learn more about HIV stigma here:

I’m Clean. UB2.

A person with HIV isn’t dirty, period. The more someone feels dirty or stigmatized by disclosing their status, the less likely they are to disclose their status. Makes sense right? Who wants to voluntarily feel like crap from uneducated, insensitive jerks? When we stop talking about HIV during sex, the risk of HIV transmission actually increases.

HIV doesn’t mean you can’t get your freak-on, guys. Get educated!

He Should Have Known Better.

It must be hard being perfect. Not everyone’s able to achieve that level of perfection – insert sarcasm card here. People often jump to the conclusion that the person who got HIV is promiscuous or hooks up a lot. But most HIV infections happen because of either a cheating partner, or from someone who hasn’t been tested and doesn’t know their status. If someone feels that people will judge them and say they “should have known better”, it can make testing more difficult and less likely. It can also make disclosure much less likely. No one wants to feel like the whole world thinks they made a mistake – but the bigger mistake is not knowing your status. Encourage each other to get tested, embrace and support each other if a test comes back positive. Let’s face it, most of us have taken risks in our lives that we wished we hadn’t.

Did you hear???

Gossip isolates guys with HIV from their own community and friends. You know the feeling, when you walk in a room and the conversation stops, or you get the looks where you know something’s up. No one wants to feel like that – and will run away from that unsupported environment. You may have lost your best friend, or your future husband by whispering instead of giving layers of support.

It’s HIS responsibility to talk about HIV.

Everyone has a responsibility in HIV prevention. If you’re hooking up, it’s both of your responsibilities to discuss your HIV status and consider HIV and STD prevention before you meet up. If you’re hooking-up online, get tested, know your status, and keep it updated in your profile.

I would NEVER date a guy with HIV.

Everyone’s got their comfort levels with everything. But before you push someone away because of their status, get informed – get the facts. There are a lot of ways to protect yourself in a mixed-status relationship like condoms, PrEP and supporting your partner to stay in treatment to reduce his viral load. Someone who tells you they’re HIV positive, but is undetectable is far less likely to transmit HIV to you than someone who doesn’t know their status, and if they do have HIV, will likely be much, much more infectious.