Stigma, discrimination and rights of PLHIV, PABA and OVC

stigma and discrimination of people living with hiv


The act of stigma and discrimination have contributed negatively to the social living of some groups of people in our world today. Not only does it affect our social life negatively, but it has cut across our economic life and some other vital aspects of living. In this page we shall be looking at stigma and discrimination as it affects PLHIV, PABA and OVC with some practical approach that can be adopted in preventing them.


Note the meaning of the following acronyms:

PLHIV: People living with HIV
PABA: People affected by AIDS
OVC: Orphans and vulnerable children

PLHIV as the name implies are simply people who are infected with HIV and are still living with the virus. Some might have enrolled in a management program in which drugs (antiretroviral therapy) are been administered to them periodically so as to reduce the viral load, and makes them live a normal life.

PABA are simply those affected by AIDS, like the saying goes "if you are not infected by AIDS, you might be affected by it". PABAs are simply relatives, friends or colleagues to people that are been infected with the virus, or those that might have died as a result of AIDS.

OVCs are those children without specific parents or guardians. They are left to wander and scavenge in the streets which are filled with various vices, thereby exposing them or making them vulnerable to HIV infection.

Stigma and discrimination

Acts of discrimination deny people’s rights to information, to services to protect them against HIV infection, and to receive appropriate treatment, care and support when HIV-positive. Fear of stigma and discrimination discourage people from seeking information on HIV&AIDS, coming forward for counselling and testing, disclosing their status or accessing AIDS services. We will not achieve Universal Access without reducing stigma and discrimination.  The fear of the consequences of stigma keeps people from adopting preventive behaviour. In some cases, stigma can prevent families from giving or accepting care. Fear of stigma can deter PLHIV from adhering to their drugs and healthcare order to conceal their positive status. As a result, stigma and discrimination compromise AIDS responses.

a. HIV Stigma can be defined as an unfavourable attitude—of disapproval or reproach within a social process that is directed towards individuals or groups who are seen to be different from others because of their HIV positive status. This could be in form of calling them by unacceptable labels.

b. HIV Discrimination is an unfair action given to an individual as a result of his/her being HIV positive. This could also be the treatment of an individual or group with partiality or prejudice

Note: stigma is the attitude, while discrimination is the action.


Reasons for stigma and discrimination against PLHIV, PABA and OVC

Stigma and discrimination against PLHIV, PABA and OVC can arise because of the following reasons listed below:

1. Fear of getting the virus through closeness to a PLHIV, PABA and OVC
Many misinformed people believed that just a mere contact with this set of people makes them to be infected with the virus as well. This piece of information is just a misconception and 100% untrue.

2. Ignorance of facts about HIV and AIDS
Many people that forms the habit of stigmatising have little or no adequate knowledge about HIV and AIDS. As a result of this, they tend to rely on negative assumptions and misconceptions. That is why proper knowledge should be encouraged.

3. Misconceptions about and misinformation on HIV and AIDS
Misconception gives birth to the first two reasons listed above. Since they do not have a proper knowledge, they tend to manufacture theirs which does not have a medical or scientific basis.

4. Moral bias arising from the erroneous belief that HIV is as a result of promiscuity
Many people that engage in the stigmatisation and discriminative act against PLHIV believes that their ordeal is as a result of their promiscuous kind of life, this is quite untrue. There are various means of transmission of the virus which does not include sexual intercourse alone.

5. Inability of the government to protect PLHIV, PABA and OVC
Another reason, which i should say is the major reason, is the inability of the government to protect this set of people against been stigmatised. Laws need to be enacted so that their rights can be protected because they are still humans like every one of us.

Negative Effects of stigma and discrimination on PLHIV, PABA and OVC and the society

1. Continued spread of the disease
2. Poor utilization of HCT services.
3. Poor access to antiretroviral therapy
4. Poor adherence to drug therapy
5. Loss of job, housing, rejection by families and friends.
6. Loss of skilled labour
7. Psychological trauma for PLHIV
8. Early deaths due to isolation from loved ones
9. Emotional challenges for those whose relatives are PLHIV
10. Inadequate psycho-social support from the society.

Practical Steps you can adopt to prevent HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination

As listed earlier, you will observe that the major reason behind stigma and discrimination on PLHIV, PABA and OVC is lack of adequate information concerning HIV/AIDS, myths and misconceptions. Below are some practical steps that can be adopted in order to prevent such negative act.

1. Involve people living with HIV in public education
Just as i am rendering in this post, PLHIV needs to educated so that they can know their rights as a human being. Actually, being infected with the virus is never a death sentence, they still have the right to live normal life like everybody does. They need to be educated so that they can enrol in a HIV care and support program where further useful information will be passed unto them.

2. Involve and support families and communities (infected and affected)
The communities and society at large needs to educated as well so that they can have adequate knowledge about HIV and AIDS and as well learn how to have a mutual relationship with infected people. They should also have the knowledge about the various means of transmission of the virus so that they will not get themselves infected on the long run.

3. Involve leaders from all sectors of the society, especially the faith communities
The government and leaders of the countries should not be left out as well. They should be educated about HIV and AIDS, and they should know as well that it is their duty to cater and care for their citizens (those infected and affected) so as to eliminate the spread of the deadly virus. The faith communities involved various religious groups, they should be aware that issues about HIV and AIDS should not be a taboo discussion in their meetings, because proper knowledge about a particular issue renders appropriate solutions to it.

4. Educate health workers so that they are not reluctant to treat people living with HIV
Health workers should also be educated on issues concerning HIV and AIDS. They should not be afraid to deal with infected people, because with them following the right precautionary methods, there are no possibilities of them getting infected. They should be aware that it is their duty to provide health care and support to those infected. They should be working hand-in-hand with the government and various non-governmental organisations and health care providers.

5. Ensure access to confidential and anonymous HIV testing
HIV testing is the first or entry point in any HIV prevention program. Confidentiality on the test results should be ensured on the various testers, it is highly unprofessional for the HIV test result of a person to be disclosed to the public without his or her personal consent. If they wishes for it to be disclosed, allow them to do it themselves.

6. Integrate HIV prevention into primary health care
HIV prevention program should be integrated into every primary healthcare. Since it has become a pandemic, then adequate measures should be used to combat it right from the grass root. Regular testing should also be encouraged among patients.

7. Communicate that HIV-related discrimination is illegal
Laws should be enacted against HIV-related stigma and discrimination. This is to ensure the security of their right, and also pass judgement to as many that will go against it. Many of such laws have been placed in Nigeria today, but who can count how effective they have been?

8. Support and promote legal services for those discriminated against

Just as i stated above concerning the various laws that have already been in place. There is a need to promote such laws to the general public for them to know that stigma and discrimination against this set of people is illegal, and every culprit will be punished by the law. Such laws and services should be rightly promoted.

In summary, young people and every individual should make every effort to educate their friends about the need to care for PLHIV, PABA and OVC in order to reduce stigma and discrimination. Feel free to share this article if you find the information contained in it to be useful.
Stigma, discrimination and rights of PLHIV, PABA and OVC Reviewed by Chibuzor Aguwa on 4/13/2016 03:22:00 pm Rating: 5

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