HIV has been around since the 1980s in the United States causing fear

HIV has been around since the 1980s in the United States causing fear, stigma towards the carrier and discrimination in healthcare settings due to the lack of education of HIV. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus that attacks a person’s immune system and once it takes over the immune system the body is unable to defend itself. First, HIV phobia is the fear of being infected with HIV or fear that you are already infected with it. Second, when the Aids epidemic first began a large amount of stigma was brought and although numbers of this disease have now decreased the stigma is still present causing people who are HIV positive to have strained relationships, feel guilt, isolation and lead to depression because of their disease. Third, people with HIV avoid going to clinics because they feel that they will be discriminated and denied care in the healthcare setting because of their HIV status. The lack of knowledge about this disease has caused people to fear it or assume that if they don’t see it then it’s probably not around.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus which can lead to Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or aids (CDC.gov). This virus is not curable and can only be temporarily treated. HIV begins by attacking the T cells which help our body fight off infection making our body’s immune system weak eventually allowing other infections or disease to take over our body. There is currently no cure or vaccine for HIV but there is treatment which can extend the life of individual. There are three stages to HIV first is acute HIV infection, clinical latency and last it leads to Aids (CDC.gov). During the acute HIV infection large amounts of this virus are being produced in your body, flu like symptoms are present and there is a very high chance of transmission. In the clinical latency stage, the virus is present and developing very slowly but there are little to no symptoms. In the third stage HIV has caused a lot of damage to your body and eventually leads to Aids which only gives a person chance of survival for up to 3 years (CDC.gov).
HIV was present as early as the 1920s in the Democratic Republic of Congo crossing over from chimpanzee to humans. The first known patient from Belgian Congo was a man who showed up to a clinic with symptoms that looked like sickle cell anemia (CDC.gov) This disease was initially was thought to have been brought over to the United States by a Canadian flight attendant know as Patient Zero but he was just another person during that time who had already been infected with the disease before it was recognized as HIV. In 1981 there was a case of 5 young men who had developed a very rare lung infection called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and these men were previously healthy (CDC.gov). Their diagnosis was that these men had all weak immune systems and had no possible illness before the lung infection to have caused a weak immune system. The men infected were also all homosexuals and with the increasing numbers in Pneumocystis people believed it was the “Gay Cancer” when in reality everyone was at risk. When this disease was made public it caused fear among everyone. Currently 36.9 million people live with HIV worldwide (Caliari, Juliano De Souza., et al).
Fear of HIV comes from the lack of knowledge of the disease. When HIV was first discovered people were afraid of what it was and the dangerous side effects. Initially there was a lot of false information regarding the disease and the unknown is what caused the fear and panic. Aids phobia is defined as a fear of getting infected with HIV or fear that you already have it (Cichocki, Mark., et al). This fear of having it is an obsessive fear or anxiety that can take over a person’s life when truly that person doesn’t know if he or she has it because they refuse to get tested. Another reason people fear HIV is because they do not know where the disease comes from or how it is contracted. There are a lot of confusion as to how HIV is transmitted. Peoples confusion about HIV are that you can transfer it through saliva, tears or simply through touch which is not true. HIV is passed through unprotected sex or sharing needles that have infected blood and can also be passed to babies during birth. The lack of knowledge about where HIV comes from and how it is passed is the biggest cause of fear.
When the Aids epidemic began a large amount of stigma was brought and although numbers of the disease has decreased the stigma is still present causing people who are HIV positive to have strained relationships, feel guilt, isolation and lead to depression because of their disease. Stigma is the attitude or belief that lead people to reject or fear what they see as different (Caliari, Juliano De Souza., et al). People who are infected with HIV and have not told their family members about their disease, feel shame or guilt because they are not able to be open up about their disease and begin to feel depressed and alone. As for people who have told family members about their diagnosis relationships can begin to fall apart due to the significant other feeling anger or negative attitude towards the infected person. People who are also infected begin to feel they will not be socially accepted because other people do not understand the disease or want to be around them because they are HIV positive. The work environment also begins to be a place of stress for a person with HIV because they begin to fear the negative attitudes they will receive once they tell people at work they have a disease. Depression might also come from the infected individual not knowing where he or she has contracted the disease from. People living with HIV that are stigmatized are more likely to delay enrollment into a treatment until they are very ill reducing the possibility of being able to live longer and possibly transmitting HIV to other people (Caliari, Juliano De Souza., et al). Stigma was one of the main reasons why people were also very reluctant to get tested. Getting tested is the way a person is to determine if they are HIV positive and if they are reluctant to get tested how will they get help they need and gain the knowledge they need regarding HIV. Internalized Stigmatization is also very damaging to a person who is infected because it can affect a person’s wellbeing and cause the person to lose confidence in seeking help (Avert.org). Internalized stigmatization can also cause a person to lose hope in living a good life.
People with HIV avoid going to clinics because they feel that they will be discriminated against in the healthcare setting because of their HIV status. Although Healthcare professionals can provide medical assistance and treatment has dramatically improved HIV discrimination in this field remains an issue. Some doctors may try to minimize the contact with a patient if they are HIV positive or deny treatment as well as demand additional payments for treatment (Avert.org). Discriminatory judgments have also been made by healthcare providers about the persons HIV status and a lot of this discrimination comes from lack of knowledge or ignorance about HIV transmission. Healthcare workers have even violated patient’s confidentiality by telling members of their family about their health status without it being approved by the patient first (Avert.org). Another reason that there is discrimination against people with HIV in the healthcare setting is because people who are treating them have negative attitudes towards homosexuality. The people who felt more negative about patients with HIV tried to have as little contact with the person and felt stressed well working with patients with HIV (Knussen & Niven). A study done by Brad Sears at the William Institute between 2003 and 2005 showed how nursing facilities, plastic surgeons and obstetricians were not willing to treat HIV patients because these care providers felt they had little knowledge of the disease and did not have the proper equipment to treat these patients. Other healthcare providers from this study simply said they try not to admit HIV patients and did not give a specific reason as to why they do not. Although discrimination is illegal by people who work in healthcare setting they will continue to disregard HIV patients and treat them as little as possible.
The biggest barrier for people infected with HIV and people who don’t have it is that they do not fully understand it or lack basic knowledge of the virus. The fear, stigma and discrimination are fueled by ignorance about HIV transmission and fear of infection when in reality the ones most affected by all this are the people who are HIV positive. People until now are still very much confused about how HIV is transmitted. The issue regarding lack of knowledge of HIV needs to be addressed. In order to help get rid of fear, stigma and discrimination we need to be well informed about the virus and look at these patients who are infected as people who also want to live a normal life. There needs to be a better prevention program where people get information on how to be more aware of the virus and how to protect themselves from it to break the cycle. People should also do frequent HIV testing. Individuals who are not infected need to be more open to HIV patients so they don’t feel discriminated against and they can feel confident enough to go to hospitals to get the treatment they need. As for people who are infected there needs to be more programs that can assist HIV patients with needs such as medicine, therapy and healthcare. As a society we need gain knowledge of HIV and the break the barriers in order to truly understand it and approach it in a way that is beneficial to the infected person and non-infected person.