Ask an Expert: How Can I Overcome the HIV Stigma?

This article is part of Health Divide: HIV, a destination in our Health Divide series.

Ask an expert: Dr. Shepherd

Xiaoyu Liu / Verywell

Verywell Health: How can I overcome the HIV stigma?

Dr. Shepherd: When someone has been diagnosed with HIV, it can take time before they are comfortable with their diagnosis and before they can discuss their diagnosis with other people. Even if they do disclose their diagnosis with their friends, families, or possible partners, it’s a lifelong journey that requires overcoming the stigma that a person might have against themselves.

They will also have to confront discrimination from others. That requires trying to avoid falling into a sphere of depression, anxiety, or self-shame when another person creates an environment of stigma and discrimination.

Overcoming the stigma associated with HIV is a community effort. This is something that everyone needs to be involved in, not just the person with the diagnosis. This is going to be required of healthcare providers, support systems, families, and also society.

All of us have the ability to create biases, and we can take steps to minimize the stigma and support people who have this diagnosis. That’s why it’s a community issue and a public health issue.