I’m back with apologies for being offline for a couple of weeks. I moved both my personal home and my office (one week apart) just before Christmas so I’ve been swamped and trying to get settled.
Unfortunately, HIV stigma is something that can be extra prevalent around the holiday season. Many of us have been deciding who we will visit and what our holiday will look like. HIV often comes into play. For many, HIV and other issues have resulted in families rejecting or disowning them. For others, “tolerance” is present at family gatherings. The decision that we have to make is whether being tolerated rather than fully accepted for who we are, is worth the visit. Not an easy question. Even for some like me who have been very lucky with supportive families (supportive now but not as much in the beginning), HIV stigma arises. I constantly and almost subconciously edit my thoughts during conversations. Do they really want to hear by relevent comment on this discussion if it’s going to remind them or challenge them in relation to HIV? When I visited my family this past week, I cut myself while helping my brother replace a window and found myself bleeding some. He didn’t notice but I was worried about how anxious it might make him. Not that he would stigmatize me but would his fear result in a reaction that might make me feel stigmatized? What would my role be in this?
Many questions and issues that arise around this season that can contribute to HIV stigma and this conversation. As people return to their routines, let me know your thoughts and experiences around how the holiday season may have impacted or contributed to someone’s experience of HIV stigme.