The HIV Shame Game: What Role Do You Play?
Tyler Curry – Freelance columnist and fiction writer; creator, The Needle Prick Project
[…] According to the Center for Disease Control, 44 percent of people who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. Unfortunately, the people who may be perpetuating the shame game may soon find that it is they who need the bath. This is where the real danger lies. Allowing language like this to permeate our culture only serves to promote the continuation of the HIV epidemic and enforce a second viral class among the gay community.
Of course, the burden of change rests on the shoulders of those affected the most by the shame game. It may seem easier for HIV-positive men to retreat into the shadows when friends and strangers alike unknowingly use language that make them feel like a pariah in dignitaries’ clothing. However, many of these accidental offenders are victim of the same phenomenon that was the basis of so much prejudice against gay men and women. They simply don’t have a personal connection to the disease. HIV-positive men owe it to themselves to speak out against language that demeans their worth. They also owe it to their HIV-negative friends to educate them on the reality so that they don’t continue to proliferate stigma or believe that they are removed from risk.
HIV-positive men aren’t victims, vampires, zombies or martyrs. The social and psychological factors surrounding infection are complex, difficult and impossible to simplify into one category.
Of course, the language we use and terminology we’ve chosen to isolate one another is just the one element of the shaming that goes on within the gay community. Combating HIV stigma is a multifarious problem that will require numerous endeavors and will take time before we start seeing measurable change.
Read the full post on The Huffington Post Blog.