When it comes to AIDS Stigma, it is usually divided into three different categories:
- Instrumental AIDS stigma—a reflection of the fear and apprehension that are likely to be associated with any deadly and transmissible illness.
- Symbolic AIDS stigma—the use of HIV/AIDS to express attitudes toward the social groups or lifestyles perceived to be associated with the disease.
- Courtesy AIDS stigma—stigmatization of people connected to the issue of HIV/AIDS or HIV-positive people.
While the most common form of stigma is Instrumental AIDS stigma due to the fact that when AIDS was first discovered, there was widespread panic everywhere with people fearing the disease and who was infected, each of these AIDS stigma had a part to play in when it came to the discrimination of people who had the illness.
With instrumental stigma, this fear came from the fact that because homosexuals were the only ones who were infected, that only gave people more of a reason to fear them and have them killed or separated from them. And since AIDS was something no one had heard of before and no one was properly educated about it, this fed people’s fears about the idea that they wanted nothing to do with anyone who had it. All of this fear could be seen in many people’s actions of trying to be violent against people who were primarily infected by it and it changed many people’s images about an infected person. This fear can also be seen in people who had the disease because of the stigma which prevented anyone to seek help or even admit that they were homosexual. AIDS was associated to anyone who was homosexual and if someone were to come out, then they were immediately deemed as someone who had the disease and were to be killed or banished immediately.
Symbolic stigma also plays a big role with instrumental stigma. They basically work together to create and even bigger stigma. This all goes back to when AIDS was first written down as a gays only disease. Because of this, this led many people to just associate it with homosexuals, even after the name was changed into AIDS so that it included everyone and not just homosexuals. However, homosexuals were the primary victims and anyone involved in this lifestyle was discriminated an always perceived to have AIDS even when they didn’t. While drug users and the black community were also infected by AIDS, homosexuals had some of the harder times of dealing with this stigma because their lifestyle was already seen as something bad so to have a disease be associated with them, it only gave more people reason to hate homosexuals and have them killed.
Courtesy stigma is something that isn’t as prominent as the last two stigmas. However, anyone who was connected to anyone with HIV/AIDS was to also be discriminated against. Because this was a transferable disease, and with more and more people being infected, there was more discrimination against people who were even friends with someone who had AIDS. This could be seen with anyone who was considered bisexual or prostitutes. People had the idea that people who slept around like prostitutes or people who dated more than one gender spread the disease around because of who they had sex with. Even if someone would tell them that they had safe sex or never have, if they had AIDS or associated themselves with someone who had AIDS, then they were susceptible to getting AIDS.
Stigma was already really bad for many people during the 1980s and the fact that there were at least three different categories related to stigma, it came in many different forms. Now, there is much more protection and education for AIDS so there isn’t as many violent acts or discrimination against AIDS people or people who are associated with AIDS. Even though there are still many different stereotypes about AIDS and the occasional idea that only gay people have AIDS, we are doing much better at addressing the fact that violence against people who have AIDS is not a good thing and more and more people are getting educated about HIV/AIDS everyday.