Stigma and HIV: time for a new paradigm?

Ian Hodgson


Stigmatising people with certain illnesses is a constant and damaging social behaviour. In particular, people living with HIV (PLHIV) have experienced discrimination and ostracisation since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s.

Its prevalence has led in the HIV sector to a plethora of literature, toolkits, reports and conferences to the point where the demarcation between those who don’t stigmatise (the good – people who work in the HIV sector) and those who do (the bad – everyone else) is clearly established.

This paper proposes an alternative view (the ugly?), that stigma is a generic characteristic of the human condition, and to truly understand the phenomenon, we should look to ourselves and deconstruct our own tendencies to stigmatise.

We may have more in common as a society than we like to admit.


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