Overcoming Stigma

“How about a dose of dignity? All patients, especially those living with HIV, deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness. Too often, women living with HIV are made to feel as though they deserve to be sick, that it is their fault for having this disease. No one should be made to feel this way, especially not by those in the medical community. Medical providers need to understand that their underlying assumptions about me- about how I got the disease, what sort of lifestyle I lead- I see those assumptions in the way they look at me, speak to me, and interact with me. From the minute I walk into the doctor’s office and speak to the receptionist, to the time I walk out that door, I deserve to be treated as a human being by each and every member of the staff, not as their assumptions dictate I am. And so do you!

We need the kindness and support from our entire medical team. Remind providers to put themselves in your shoes. How would they want to be treated if the roles were reversed? We are not our illness. They need to treat us with the same dignity and respect they would want to be treated with, HIV positive or not.
*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “LTAI Calendar of Recommendations for Providers Serving the Positive Community.”

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