What is Stigma?

Stigma is a degrading and debasing attitude of the society that discredits a person or a group because of an attribute (such as an illness, deformity, color, nationality, religion etc). The resulting coping behavior of affected person results in internalized stigma. This perceived or internalized stigma by the discredited person is equally destructive whether or not actual discrimination occurs. Stigma destroys a person’s dignity; marginalizes affected individuals; violates basic human rights; markedly diminishes the chances of a stigmatized person of achieving full potential; and seriously hampers pursuit of happiness and contentment. When stigma is associated with a medical condition or disability it prevents individuals from seeking evaluation and treatment, disclosing the diagnosis to the people most likely to provide support and in following treatment guidelines. Fear of social abandonment and losing intimate partners prevents many with HIV from sharing the diagnosis with their loved ones and sexual partners. Stigma has become a major reason why HIV epidemic continues and millions of people are getting infected and dying with HIV every year.

What can I do?

Click here for tips on how to show support when you see stigma in action.