Aids Essay Research Paper AIDS Related Stigma

Aidss Essay, Research Paper

AIDS Related Stigma Since the visual aspect of AIDS in the late 1970ss and early 1880ss, the disease has had attached to it a important societal stigma. This stigma has manifested itself in the signifier of favoritism, turning away and fright of people populating with AIDS ( PLWAs ) . As a consequence, the societal deductions of the disease have been extended from those of other life endangering conditions to the point at which PLWAs are non merely faced with a terminal unwellness but besides societal isolation and changeless favoritism throughout society. Assorted accounts have been suggested as to the implicit in causes of this stigmatisation. Many surveies point to the relationship the disease has with aberrant behaviour. Others suggest that fright of contagious disease is the existent perpetrator. Analyzing the bing literature and seting it into social context leads one to believe that there is no 1 cause. Alternatively, there would look to be a aggregation of associated factors that influence society & # 8217 ; s attitudes towards AIDS and PLWAs. As the figure of people infected with HIV additions, societal workers are and will be progressively called upon to cover with and function PLWAs. Although non all societal workers chose to work with PLWAs, the intensifying incidence of HIV infection is making a state of affairs in which sera positive people are and will be demoing up more frequently in about all countries of societal work pattern. This paper aims to analyze AIDS related stigma and the stigmatisation procedure, hopefully supplying penetrations into countering the effects of stigma and possibly the possibility of destigmatization. This is of peculiar applicability to the field of societal work due to our turning engagement with the HIV positive population. Association to Deviant/Marginal Behavior one of the most clearly and frequently identified causes of AIDS related stigma is its association to deviant behaviour. The disease has had and still does hold a strong association for many to homosexualism, IV drug usage, sexual promiscuousness and other kinds of sexual pattern ( O & # 8217 ; Hare, et al. , 1996 ; Canadian Association of Social Workers, 1990 ; Quam, 1990 & A ; Beauger, 1989 ) . An particularly strong association exists between homosexualism and AIDS. This is mostly due to the fact that, in the early old ages of the disease, it was far more prevailing within the homosexual community and about non-existent outside of it. In fact, until 1982 the disease was referred to as GRID or Gay Related Immune Deficiency. Even today, AIDS is frequently referred to as & # 8220 ; the homosexual pestilence & # 8221 ; ( Giblin, 1995 ) . Even though AIDS is now far less prevailing in the homosexual community and progressively more outside of it, this nexus still remains strong for many. Along with the historical context of AIDS, the media is partially to fault for this non so accurate association. The Canadian Association of Social Workers ( 1990 ) studies that, & # 8220 ; frequently the media has non distinguished between & # 8216 ; gay & # 8217 ; and & # 8216 ; AIDS & # 8217 ; , so that public apprehension of homosexualism and AIDS has become intermeshed & # 8221 ; ( p.10 ) . In recent old ages, the media has started to do more accurate differentiations between homosexualism and AIDS, but messages are still assorted and frequently equivocal. The state of affairs is rather similar in respect to IV drug usage, harlotry, and other activities normally associated with AIDS. This focal point that the media has put on specific groups falsely topographic points accent on high hazard groups instead than high hazard activities. As a consequence, the word AIDS entirely conjures, for many, images of those who stray from what society deems normal behaviour. Many of the groups to which AIDS is associated have long histories of stigmatisation before the visual aspect of AIDS. Homosexuals, in western civilization, have about ever suffered the effects of being a stigmatized population. The same is true of cocottes, IV drug users, and people of colour ( O & # 8217 ; Hare, et al. , 1996 ; Giblin, 1995 & A ; CASW, 1990 ) . It is important to advert coloured populations, as the parts of the universe that are most badly effected by AIDS, such as states in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Haiti, are largely populated by races other than Caucasic. As a consequence, a strong association has besides been made between AIDS and people of colour ( Quam, 1990 ) . The fact that AIDS is associated with already stigmatized groups has two chief effects. First and most obvious, is that society & # 8217 ; s negative attitudes towards the group in inquiry are transferred to AIDS and PLWAs. Second, is an elaboration of the bing negative feelings that society holds towards the groups associated with the disease ( CASW, 1990 ) . As a consequence, homophiles, cocottes, colored people and other groups associated to HIV infection are non merely seen as pervert or unwanted, but besides as possible bearers of the virus who are to be feared and avoided. Some spiritual groups see AIDS as a penalty from God for iniquitous behavior. As kids, many people were told that of what could go on to them if they strayed from what their parents or spiritual philosophy considered appropriate behaviors. Quam ( 1990 ) writes, & # 8220 ; Their parents and other parental governments warned them that if they succumbed to pleasances of the flesh

they would suffer dire consequences. Now AIDS would appear to fulfill such prophecies” (36). Such sentiment still exists publicly today. When asked about his feelings about the AIDS epidemic, Jerry Falwell, a popular and quite influential televangelist said publicly, “When you violate moral, health, and hygiene laws, you reap the whirlwind. You can not shake your fist in God’s face and get away with it” (Giblin, 1995). Another factor influencing attitudes towards PLWAs is the fear of contagion. In fact, Bishop, Alva, Cantu, and Rittiman (1991) argue that this is a greater cause of stignatization than the association to deviant behaviour. They found that many people expressed negative attitudes towards PLWAs regardless of how the virus was contracted or the person’s background. The fact that there is no known cure for AIDS and as of yet the disease always ends in death validates this fear for many. As people are becoming more aware of how the virus is transmitted, they seem to be become less fearful of PLWAs. However, people’s fear and avoidance of PLWAs is still greatly effected depending on the mode of transmission (Borchert & Rickabaugh, 1995). In recent years, a distinction has been made in our society between what we consider to be innocent and deserving victims of AIDS. Society tends to classify people who contract AIDS through blood transfusions, their mother’s at birth, or other uncontrollable circumstances as innocent victims. On the other hand, homosexuals, IV drug users, the sexually promiscuous, and other ‘deviants’ are seen as deserving of the condition they are in when they contract AIDS. The common attitude held towards the ‘deserving victim’ is that of ‘you play, you pay’ (Quam, 1990). This mentality leads to feelings of fear and hostility towards and a great lack of compassion for those who are incorrectly and irrationally deemed as being deserving of the disease. Borchert and Rickabugh (1995) found that greater levels of AIDS related stigma were expressed towards PLWAs who played an active role in the contraction of HIV. They noticed that people actually expressed quite sympathetic feelings towards people who played no active role in contraction, the innocent victims. It is only since the beginning of this decade that we have begun to notice this phenomenon. In the past, no distinction was made regarding mode of transmission. In the 1980s, school children who had contracted HIV through blood transfusions were stigmatized almost as badly as homosexuals and often not even allowed to attend public schools. It was only after the highly publicized case of Ryan White that we saw the shift in attitudes and the formation of the innocent/deserving distinction (Giblin, 1995). Social Implications The effects of stigma for PLWAs are many. They suffer discrimination from the general public in a variety of settings, including work, school and within the health care environment. In the early years of AIDS, many PLWAs were actually refused service in North American hospitals and some were fired from their jobs upon announcing that they had AIDS. The fact that the Canadian Human Rights Commission felt it necessary to specifically address HIV/AIDS discrimination is a good indicator as to what point it exists. Many PLWAs also experience extreme social isolation due to their illness; because of the negative reactions of friends and family members, the seropositive person is often rejected by many members of their social entourage (Giblin, 1995; Bishop, et al., 1991; CASW, 1990; l’Association des Medecines de Langue Francaise du Canada, 1990 & Quam, 1990). The situation for PLWAs has changed somewhat in recent years. Legislation has been passed in both Canada and the United States making it illegal to discriminate against people for having AIDS. A major turning point occurred in the U.S. in 1990 after the highly publicized case of Ryan White. Ryan was a child with AIDS who was not permitted to attend public school due to his condition. Shortly after his death, a law was passed (the Ryan White Act) to try to prevent such discriminatory actions from happening again. White’s story is not unique. At the same time that he was being excluded from public schools, a family with two seropositive children was forced to leave the Florida town they were living in after threats of violence and an arson fire in their home (Giblin, 1995 & Quam, 1990). At approximately the same time as U.S. legislation was passed, the Canadian government included AIDS under its human rights commission anti- discrimination laws. Although some things have changed and laws have been passed, the effects if stigma are still prevalent. Many people still express feelings of fear and hostility towards PLWAs (O’Hare, et al., 1996). Most of the negative attitudes felt and expressed are irrational but the effects can be devastating. One effect is people’s tendency to avoid all contact with PLWAs which contributes to social isolation. Also, even though legislation has been passed, discrimination still does exist. When asked about the treatment he received at Montreal General Hospital, an HIV positive patient explained that AIDS discrimination is far

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