SOCIAL FACETS OF THE HIV-AIDS EPIDEMIC
Shrikant Birajdar, Bhimrao Jadhav, Pradnya Jadhav* and Sundaram Kartikeyan
Sexuality education for adolescents is known to bring about behaviour changes, but the content of the education programmes are highly variable across India. HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, stigmatization and denial can manifest under diverse situations and are influenced by numerous determinants at individual, family and community levels intensify the gender inequalities and pre-existing prejudices. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has offered a pretext for selective targeting of vulnerable groups for imposing various types of stigma and discrimination based on criteria that pre-date the HIV epidemic. Local cultural bigotry and beliefs determine the choice of categories of individuals (based on race, religion, skin colour) or types of behaviour (homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, drug use, commercial sex work) that should be targeted. “Felt stigma” results in denial or concealment of HIV sero-status to avoid the anxiety of disclosure and also encourages secrecy, which safeguards the HIV-affected individual from experiencing “enacted stigma” (or “discrimination”). It is essential to tackle local cultural practices and beliefs that act as the basis for HIV/AIDS-related stigmatization. Since a legal approach to this multi-pronged challenge may not be effective in isolation, it is necessary to formulate culture-sensitive intervention programmes using multi-media approach to promote tolerance, confidentiality, human rights and gender equality.
Keywords: Confidentiality, Denial, Discrimination, HIV, Social facets, Stigma.
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