HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination
by Bradford McIntyre
Individuals should not have to suffer all
losses due to illness! Men, women
and children are suffering with HIV/AIDS. We need to assure that
these people are cared for, not discriminated against! We must
provide funds for proper nutrition, housing and health care for
these individuals to aid and contribute to their well-being. We
need to get rid of the false perceptions and judgments. Like Doreen Millman said in Vancouver at the 1996 AIDS Conference in reference
to how a 63 year old grandmother got AIDS. She said, "It just
doesn't matter!" Neither does an individual's race, religion or
sexual orientation matter! Don't
look for differences; look at how we can help one another.
I do not believe it is naive to think we can make
the necessary changes, but rather it is naive to think that we
can continue on our current course neglecting those who suffer
from poverty, illness and disease. People are judging those who
are sick, disabled and poor.
At the X1V International AIDS Conference
2002, Nelson Mandela said, "Stigma,
discrimination and ostracism are the real killers."
People living with illness are
no different from anyone else, except for their disease. Prior
to this, they were hard working people, contributing to society.
Once sick, they are expected to do without and not have those
things they had in their life before sickness! Why do we allow
Many people have nothing due to the lack of funding
and the effort it has taken for them to survive through their
illness. People should be entitled to the right to a quality and
standard of living, which promotes wellness and healing, not death
and dying. There are people dying due to the stress on an already
stressed and suppressed immune system. There is added stress due
to a lack of funds available to support nutritional diet and good
health. Proper nutrition is necessary for HIV infected individuals,
as those who eat well feel better compared to those who consume
a less than adequate diet. Malnutrition can compromise their ability
to fight off infection. The stress that people are enduring while
trying to maintain a home, food, and health is putting them at
risk of continued health problems. This in turn means they are
in greater need of medical attention! We should be making good
nutrition a high priority in AIDS treatment!
My concern and disappointment
is directed at the lack of consideration given to the present
situation of poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate sanitation and
housing for people living with HIV. These issues are of the utmost importance
to individuals who are trying to maintain their health and living.
The present situation is driving people below poverty, affecting
their health and forcing them to live in standards no one would
want to experience! People, who have worked and contributed to
society, should not be subjected to living in inadequate conditions
due to health and inability to work when diagnosed with a life
A call for action is necessary. The present situation dictates that these
are vital necessities for people living with HIV/AIDS throughout
the world! Since many people infected with HIV have neither the
health nor energy to work towards creating awareness and change,
it is my intention to speak through my experience for those whom
I hope will benefit. Ignoring the importance of meeting these
needs will bring an ever-increasing cost to our health care systems
and us worldwide. A simple exercise in these directions and implementation
would have an enormous impact on the fight against AIDS!
We are all here together, connected.
Nothing is happening to just one of us, but affecting ALL of us!
Illness and poverty can strike any one of us, at any time! What
is happening affects us all. We can no longer look at others or
view other places in the world where people are sick and dying
and continue to neglect caring for them, without recognizing how
it affects society. We have the means
to provide all that is necessary, but we will have to work together
to correct the global imbalance. The
richer countries have a moral responsibility to help out poorer
We have been warned by science that we are faced
with an ever-increasing battle -- the battle against the bug!
Every country is at risk of every disease. Here in North America,
many people take for granted our quality of life, while others
here and elsewhere in the world are faced with poverty, poor sewage
and sanitation, famine, drought, environmental devastation and
disease, along with millions of people dying. These are problems
facing us all. These very same circumstances affect people in
every part of the world. We cannot continue to allow millions
to suffer and millions to die and expect we will not be affected.
We have to make the necessary changes and care
for one another. If HIV and AIDS have not brought this realization,
then surely West Nile, SARS, Mad Cow, Monkey Pox and Ebola are
convincing enough! It is time to realize that it is only a matter
of time before this major global epidemic will affect each and
every one of us and that possibly, we will have to deal with some
other new bug as well! This is happening already. Look at the
impact of SARS and its effects on health care, travel, tourism,
jobs, our economy and relationships with other countries. We would
do well to pay attention and learn from the enormous poverty,
illness and deaths worldwide caused by HIV/AIDS.
At the XIV International AIDS Conference
in 2002, Nelson Mandela in his closing speech said,
"AIDS is a war against humanity".
There is no doubt this situation is going to have
an enormous effect on all our lives. When will our eyes be opened
to what is going on all around us?
copyright © Bradford McIntyre
Enkidu Magazine- 2004-01-8 (Mexico
Enkidu Magazine- (Español)
2004-03-20 (South Africa)
Africa: HIV/AIDS Hope Lives Here-2004-11-09 (Africa)
Also published under the Title:
is a war against Humanity" (Africa/Global)