A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Stigma begins with the devaluing of a person because of a difference which is attributed with a negative connotation. Stigma and discrimination often go hand-in-hand, as discrimination often occurs as a result of stigma and stigmatising attitudes. Stigma can disempower people, but it is equally important to note that experiences with stigma have placed some individuals into situations where they have found new coping skills, and generated emotional and mental strength and resilience building skills. Despite this stigma and discrimination need to be addressed at the community education and awareness level, through such campaigns like ENUF: www.enuf.org.au/
Stigma can be experienced in a variety of ways. Some examples of HIV stigma include:
- Ignorance or false information as to how HIV is transmitted.
- False information that HIV is highly contagious or can be caught by casual contact.
- Moral judgements about people and assumptions about sexual behaviour (including homophobia) and/or injecting drug use.
- Fear of death and disease.