Since the early 1980s, HIV and AIDS have carried a very strong stigma. Over time, we’ve seen people in the U.S. become more open about the disease and embrace those who do actually have it. We’re encouraged because as of this week, we noticed China’s leaders are are “going public” in their support of HIV/AIDS victims and offering support and encouragement.
Chinese leaders support HIV victims
According to Euronews.com, over 69,000 living in China were diagnosed with HIV this year. Because of that, Xi Jinping, (likely to be the country’s next president) and his second-in-command Li Keqiang, shook hands with AIDS patients this week and promised that they’d take bigger strides in research and education. A lot of those diagnosed won’t get treatment because of the stigma.
So what is this “stigma”?
HIV and AIDS can cause a very negative reaction or discrimination. The disease is closely associated with sexual activity, homosexuality, and promiscuity, and can also be linked to drug use.
It is life-threatening, which causes a very negative reaction in a lot of people. It can be seen as a result of irresponsibility. It is even seen by some people to be a punishment for a crime.
We need to be more like China
Obviously we as a nation are doing better with the Stigma. We’ve embraced celebrities like Magic Johnson, Freddy Mercury, and Greg Louganis. Elton John has even worked with President Bush to fight AIDS. We’re growing as a society in combating this disease.
Now it’s your turn.
Don’t let the stigma ruin how you treat someone with HIV or AIDS. If you know someone with the disease, treat them how you’d like to be treated, with respect. Don’t see them as unclean. See them as people who are afflicted with a disease and move on. And if you know someone who is unsure if they have the disease, help them find answers at a local prevention site. Your respect and helpfulness can go along way to someone with the disease.