Stigma, when associated with HIV, another medical condition, mental illness or disability, prevents a person from seeking evaluation and treatment, disclosing the diagnosis to those most likely to provide support, and following treatment guidelines. Health related stigma destroys human dignity.
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Stigma is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: a set of negative and unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something. In the more than four decades of the HIV Pandemic, the medical, scientific and communities most impacted by HIV have made incredible strides; moving us from what was once death sentence, to now a manageable chronic condition. That progress has been unequal across race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and geographic location due to several factors but one of the primary culprits remains from the earliest days of the HIV pandemic, HIV-related stigma.