What are the stigmas associated with HIV infection?

Updated: Jul 01, 2019
  • Author: Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

A considerable amount of stigma has been attached to HIV infection, mostly because of the virus's association with sexual acquisition and the inference of sexual promiscuity. Consequences of this stigma have included discrimination and reluctance to be tested for HIV infection. The stigma of HIV infection is also associated with a fear of acquiring a rapidly fatal infection from relatively casual contact.

Such attitudes are inappropriate because HIV is poorly transmissible without sexual contact or blood contact. In addition, the expected survival is long in patients with HIV infection who are receiving treatment. HIV is not transmitted during casual contact and is readily inactivated by simple detergents. Much of the concern regarding HIV infection is due to the incurability of the infection and the relentless immune decline and eventual premature death in the vast majority of infected people.


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