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Stigmatization And Discrimination: Living With Hiv/Aids In Canada

1852 words - 7 pages

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada HIV – the Human Immunodeficiency Virus - is a virus that attacks the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness that leaves people vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. (Canada 2008) Essentially over time, when your body can no longer battle the virus it progresses into a disease know as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. The transmition of HIV occurs when a person’s contaminated body fluids enter another individual. Unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral), sharing needles, using unsterilized equipment for body modification, mother to infant transmition, as well as occupational exposure in health care are all ways HIV can be spread. HIV/AIDS as an illness is relatively new. The first reported case of AIDS in the world was in 1981, and a year later in Canada. Scientists all around the world are busy searching for a cure or vaccine to treat the millions of people internationally dying of HIV/AIDS.
The stigmatization and discrimination that goes hand and hand with a positive diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is overwhelming. defines discrimination as the “treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice.” In essence, discrimination is about actions and stigma relates to beliefs and attitudes. Both however are built up on negative views of a person just because they are apart of a specific group. All over the world, there are well-documented cases of people living with HIV that are being denied the right to health- care, work, education, and freedom of movement, among others. (UNAIDS 2005) This stigma and discrimination exist globally, although it appears differently across countries, communities, and individuals. Furthermore it has closed off proper discussion of the virus and disease, as well as it has ultimately led many people to not be open about their status. Stigmatizing and discriminating against people with HIV/AIDS is not only detrimental to their self-esteem, it is also helping perpetuate the pandemic. The Declaration of Commitment adopted by the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in June 2001 says that “That stigma, silence, discrimination and denial, as well as a lack of confidentiality, under-mine prevention, care and treatment efforts and increase the impact of the epidemic on individuals, families, communities.” (UNAIDS 2002)
One of the driving factors contributing to the amount of stigmatization and discrimination people with HIV face is the fact that the virus was initially predominately found in already marginalized groups of people. Such as intravenous drug users, people of African decent, as well as gay men. “HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination are now widely acknowledged as key obstacles to successful care and prevention throughout the world particularly amongst more disadvantaged and marginalized groups.” (Nwanna 2005) Due...

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