The Stigma That Kills.
HIV & Society
It is 2020 already but HIV is still being feared in some countries, in my case, the Philippines. It's quite difficult to live with HIV in a traditional place where most people embrace tradition and old habits very much. Sometimes, you can't help it but it also sneaks up on you and in some cases, it's inevitable to find it hard accepting the status yourself because of the stigma the old times have created. From generations to generations, it's been passed down that HIV/ AIDS is a disease that people should be disgusted about when in fact, no diseases and conditions should ever be seen as such.
A few sub-issues are that the stigma makes single HIV patients isolated from committing to relationships or even enjoy life to the fullest simply because it instilled the fear of rejection and discrimination. In couples, they may find it hard bearing a child because of the fear of transmission. It's like a huge difficult stain on your favorite shirt that doesn't seem to fade away no matter how hard you try to scrub it off.
Never be afraid to seek help.
There are various lines of treatments already available and if a line doesn't work for you, your doctor will give you the next treatment in line. Consistency is the key as well as self-discipline, take your treatment on time and never miss a dose as much as possible because this is our only defense and our way to continue with our normal lives. If you experience any side effects, don't be afraid to ask for help from your doctor and seek counseling if deemed necessary. They're the best ones to talk to in terms of coping with the status and togto medical advice to better your progress.
The end of the stigma starts with you!
"There is hope and there is life after diagnosis", this is what I always say to my friends and to the people I've been open with. It's not a death sentence, not anymore. There's treatment already available for almost the entire globe and most importantly, there are still people, support groups who are willing to embrace and accept your status for it's neither a weakness nor a disability but a second chance.
HIV is just a quick stop, to realize and be open to the possibilities that there's a better chance for you to continue living and be passionate again.
It's a second chance to reshape yourself and continue where you left off.
For you to see the change in society, the change should start within yourself. Don't focus on what's not and start accepting what is then move forward.
Prevention & Awareness are your greatest allies.
Of course, they say "prevention is better than cure" and I couldn't express its importance furthermore.
So how do you prevent it? First, use condoms, it's basically the most effective and the most efficient way to prevent the transmission HIV/ AIDS and other STDs. Second, get tested! Yes, it may sound scary at first and you might want to back out when you're already there but awareness is one of your best weapons here especially if you're active. Third, be monogamous if you're in a relationship - the risk of transmission by sticking to one partner is absolutely lower, be faithful to each other. Fourth, preventing the transmission by the use of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) of a confirmed HIV-positive person to significantly reduce the risk of transmission or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV-negative people to block the acquisition of HIV. These preventions are the most effective and deemed, the most efficient ways to lower someone's risk of getting infected according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
A message to the society...
The world is changing by the minute and yet most of us would rather choose to be stagnant than to move forward, let's learn how to cope with changes and accept people as they are. HIV and/ or AIDS is not airborne; you can hug, you can give us a kiss, you can shake our hands and spend good times with us!
Do not let ignorance feed the stigma; ask and learn from medical experts.
It doesn't help to discriminate and it doesn't hurt to see past our status.
© 2020 Chichi Limson Hernandez