HIV: A Brief History of Misconceptions and Stigma

This substance of this article shall focus on a disease that has overwhelmed the world and devastated millions of people. This particular disease emerged in the eighties and has seen ravaged various populations both in developed and developing nations. AIDS which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is caused by HIV is what 35 million year have been living with according to data from the end of 2013. Thirty-five million people have been surviving with a disease that enables the host to succumb to simple, opportunistic infections that can be lethal due to a suppressed immune system. While so many people have lost their lives to this disease, many of those currently living with the disease have and continue to face harrowing stigma.

This stigmas is a result of a myriad of misconceptions about the etiology, origin and subsequent research that has been conducted. In addition a lot of sociocultural views have played a crucial role in how individuals with AIDS are treated and viewed in mainstream society. While there are many myths surrounding AIDS,  there are two in particular that are not only extremely disturbing and have been expressed numerous times, they are a result of a society that takes in interests in judging without understanding and knowing all the facts.

The first major myth of misconceptions about AIDS that has most likely caused extreme stigma, is that “it is a gay disease”. This is not only false but it is ignorant and very hurtful to those who identify themselves as homosexual or part of the LGBT society. Regardless of a person’s sex, sexual orientation, race, etc, anyone who comes in close contact with blood, practices unsafe sex and may share needles is prone to becoming infected. Another misconception/myth is one that is very useful and understanding to the general public. Knowledge is power and something like this, is known could significantly enhance a person’s understanding and respect of HIV/AIDS  and all its implications. Many people think that if a person is on HIV  therapy they cannot transmit the virus to anybody. This is false because while the antiviral therapies are in place to reduce the viral loads within the system, even to undetectable levels, the virus is still very much present in the system, thus the virus can still be transmitted. hiv-aids


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