What would you do if someone you love gets infected with HIV? Would you still treat them the same way as before? This kind of question might not come into your mind but in fact, it can happen to anyone. The rate of people who gets infected with HIV is increasing rapidly in our society (Cite).
People who are HIV positive have to struggle with their life, living by the day. They are faced with many problems such as scarcity of expensive medicine, dealing with emotional conflict and especially, discrimination. People often treat AIDS victims as if they have no feelings or emotions like other people. We should all support and encourage them to be strong because they are the ones who need it the most. They have already contracted the deadly disease and by discrimination, we will make them feel even worse. Imagine people staring at you like you are some kind of a stranger.
I know exactly how it feels like because when I first came to Thailand, people looked at me as if something was wrong with me. One AIDS victim told me that before she was infected with HIV, she had a lot of friends. After she found out she was infected, all her friends slowly abandoned her. None of her friends were supportive or knew the true meaning of friendship. She had said to me, “AIDS took away all the friends and people I cared for.” Whenever she got close to someone, they would keep a distance from her.
They were hostile towards her and treated her like she was something worthless and had no feelings. Put yourself in the shoes of an AIDS victim and you might understand how it feels to be one of them. I would say that AIDS victims are discriminated against and not treated with the respect they deserve. Aids victims should be treated with more respect in public places and accommodations.
Many AIDS victims are being treated unequally in places such as the workplace, schools, restaurants, or public facilities. For example, schools do not accept anyone that is HIV positive. They are afraid of putting other students at risk. Also, if certain parents know that there is a student in school who has AIDS, they might protest against the school and might take their children out of the school. This will then affect the school negatively with the loss of profit or blemish their name. Schools are not the only place that has the discriminating attitude against individuals with AIDS.
Discrimination happens at other places as well, such as at work. People with AIDS might not be hired just because they have the illness. Employers might use irrelevant reasons as a way to not hire them. A head of one human resource development said, “Though we do not have a policy so far, I can say that if at the time of recruitment there is a person with HIV, I will not take him. I’ll certainly not buy a problem for the company.
I see recruitment as a buying-selling relationship. If I don’t find the product attractive, I will not buy it.” (CITE) In this comment, we can see the discrimination against people with AIDS. For those who are already employed, they will most definitely be faced with the prejudice as well. People will not dare to work closely with them and will keep a distance, with the fear of getting the disease. An HIV positive man in India had said, “Nobody will come near me, eat with me in the canteen, nobody will want to work with me, I am an outcast here.” (CITE) It is hard for AIDS victims to keep their jobs for long due to the pressure of intolerance in the workplace.
Public accommodations cannot reject or exclude people with AIDS. There are laws against the unequal treatment towards AIDS victims. For example, if a restaurant refuses to serve a person with AIDS, they would be violating the law. This is because they are not a threat to other people. People who have AIDS are not a risk to other since AIDS cannot be transmitted through casual contact.
People are afraid of sharing objects with those who have AIDS. Would you dare to drink from the same glass of water with someone who has AIDS? Most people would definitely say “no” to this question. This is because most people believe that by sharing the same utensils or things as AIDS people, they are putting themselves at risk and would probably be infected with HIV. People do not want to share anything at all with those who have AIDS. From utensils such as plates, spoons, and cups to bathroom, most people would prefer it if these things were not used by AIDS people.
People are very discriminating and it makes AIDS victims feel like an outsider. They feel that they cannot fit into the society, making their dignity even lower. They will not dare to use any public facilities or equipments since they know that they will be troubling others. Once an AIDS victim told me that she used to be a secretary of a school. Whenever she used something from the office such as a pen, stapler, or a computer, no one will dare to use it after her. She had told me that it made her feel bad and guilty at the same time.
At last, she was not able to stand this treatment against her and decided to quit her job. People do not like to talk or interact with AIDS victims. They often walk away or keep a distance from them. This action has a big impact on AIDS victims, especially in terms of emotional feelings.
By avoiding them, they will feel worse about themselves. This will lead to a very low self esteem or dignity. After a while, they will start to keep to themselves and turn away from the society, since nobody wants to have anything to do with them. At last, they will isolate themselves from everyone.
Sometimes, it can have a bad result. For example, there was an AIDS patient in the AIDS hospice who had to be tied with a rope. She had psychological problems. The staff had said that she often hurt herself and also had the tendency to bite other people. In fact, they had said that she recently became like this.
Before her psychological problem, she was a quiet and polite girl. However, she became like this when her family left her and stopped visiting her. People are ignorant and have the wrong concept about AIDS victims. Society likes to think that people with AIDS are bad. They believe that most had gotten AIDS through improper behavior. They have a very pessimistic idea against them.
When they think of AIDS victims, they assume that these people are either prostitutes or drug addicts. The truth is, not every AIDS victim had gotten the disease this way. Some children are infected with HIV ever since they were born. They inherited the deadly disease from their parents who had AIDS.
There are also people who are infected by no fault of their own. For example, once, a woman went to check her blood at the hospital. The nurse of that hospital used the same syringe as the previous person. Later on, she found out that she had been infected with HIV. These innocent people are misunderstood by the society and people often use the minority concept as a whole by including them in prostitution and drug abuse.
With this, they are treated with a bad attitude. Since AIDS people lack many opportunities that normal people have, we should encourage them and support them. In any place that we meet someone with AIDS, we should treat them normally. I believe this will make them feel comfortable and help them gain confidence.
Moreover, we should not be so sensitive and overreact with AIDS people. Sharing the same item does not make you become one of them. Most importantly, do not hesitate to take to them because it is the best way to give them hope and strength to carry on with their life. AIDS cannot be transmitted by shaking hands, hugging, using the same bathroom, and such. In fact, AIDS cannot be transmitted by saliva. HIV is transmittable in limited ways.
It is most often transmitted through unprotected sex or contact with infected blood and other body fluids. Apart from the mentioned, it is not easily transmitted through other methods. Although there are many people who are compassionate and supportive towards people with AIDS, most of the time they have to be faced with prejudice and rejection from their families, loved ones, and the society. In this day and age of information, people are fearful through ignorance and still treat AIDS victims unequally. We can still see people discriminate against them in many ways that I have mentioned earlier. How can we change people’s attitudes towards AIDS victims? No laws can change people’s discrimination towards AIDS victims.
By educating people about AIDS, we might be able to reduce the level of fear, resulting in less discrimination. To figure out how to solve this problem, everyone needs to cooperate. We all have to take a special concern in this area.