Say No to AIDS

You may have heard the terms “stigma” and “discrimination” before and it is important to be aware of these as they may affect how you care for yourself.



Hear stories from people living with HIV reflecting on their experiences of stigma and how they have overcome it.


What Is Stigma?

Stigma refers to a set of unfair and negative assumptions or beliefs about a particular group of people. These beliefs are usually unfounded. In other words, they are often not true.

What Is HIV-related Stigma?

HIV-related Stigma refers to inaccurate and unfair judgment about PLHIV. Stigma can lead to discrimination. What are some of the unfair assumptions made about PLHIV?

  • PLHIV are sinful.
  • PLHIV are sexually promiscuous.
  • PLHIV can transmit HIV via holding hands with others.

What Is Discrimination?

Because of stigma, discrimination can result. Discrimination refers to unfair treatment of a person who has been stigmatised. Discrimination is extremely harmful and painful to persons who receive such treatment. Persons can sometimes be denied specific rights and freedoms as a result of discrimination.

What Types Of Discrimination Can PLHIV Experience?

In some cases, PLHIV may be:

  • Denied casual contact from friends, family members and community members
  • Referred to “positives” and “HIVers”

How Can Stigma And Discrimination Affect Treatment And Care For PLHIV?

Stigma and discrimination can affect one’s mental health and lead to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, these mental health conditions can result in non-adherence to treatment and care.

How Can PLHIV Cope With Stigma And Discrimination?

It is important to find healthy ways to address the effects of stigma and discrimination. Firstly, a healthy support network is important. These are people that you can share distress with. Additionally, you can speak to your social worker at your treatment site.

You may want to step a bit further and work with organizations that work to address stigma and discrimination. Many of these are NGOs that have served the community for many years.

It is also helpful for us to hear stories from others who have overcome stigma and discrimination.