Bullying in the workplace, rejection at medical practices, exclusion from friends... for people living with HIV, discrimination is still a bitter reality. Even if many are lucky enough to live relatively symptom free through medications, we still see strong prejudice and rejection in this country.
Many of the infected carry their HIV positive status in secret for fear of discrimination. They tell no one, or tell very few people. Many suffer in secret from not being able to talk about their plight. Many are afraid to "test the waters" because they fear negative consequences. What's worse, scientists estimate that three out of five HIV positive people are unaware that they're even infected, which has dire consequences for themselves, as well as for others.
The German AIDS Assistance Services has therefore appealed for more action against discrimination on the occasion of World AIDS Day - 2013. "Discrimination against persons with the virus can make one sick, and can even be fatal," says Carsten Schatz, a board member. This appeal is primarily aimed at government, business, and the healthcare system, but each can ultimately contribute in reducing the discrimination against people infected with HIV.
"I have cancer." - "I'm so sorry!" "I'm HIV positive." - " Oh." How do you react when someone reveals he's infected? How much do you actually know about HIV/AIDS, about what kind of life an HIV person leads, about ways in which you could become infected, and ways that you won't? Do you still harbor ill will or back away because of an irrational fear? There is no danger of infection if one coughs or sneezes, or by using the same dishes, or hugs and kisses.
People with HIV need support from you personally. Even within our congregations, HIV is an issue that can become personal for you... if someone confides their status to you, or if rumor comes to your ears of someone's status, is it met with discrimination? Jesus went to all people without reservation. He did not hesitate contact with sick people or the marginalized. Let us take it upon ourselves to be an example, not just on World AIDS Day. Let's be the best examples that we can be.