Essay by Fab111 March 2004

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Joe is thirty-two years old who has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS), he has been cut off from his family emotionally and they do not telephone him as often as they used to. Christmas particularly is very strained for Joe, as his family will not acknowledge his partner. He is struggling with his feelings as to whether it is worth giving the family more time to come to terms with his situation or looking at other services for assistance. A support group called P-FLAG (Parents of friends of Lesbians and Gay) help people such as Joe to handle day-to-day issues of living with HIV/AIDS. A group such as this gives a person belonging, which can build self-respect, confidence and a capacity to deal with the virus.

'Stigma' means a sign of shame, disgrace or disapproval, or being shunned or rejected by others, stigma has an affect not only on the person but also on the family as well (Link, 2002).

It is overwhelming sometimes for the person suffering from HIV/AIDS knowing that other people shy away or glance away to avoid them. Stigma (Grossman, 1995) and discrimination are major obstacles for individuals who already feel oppressed devalued and marginalized, increasing their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS (Goffman, 1997). It is against the law to discriminate against a person with HIV/AIDS.

According to a counsellor from AC (Aids Council) people suffering from HIV often become the person they do not want to be. Depression is very common with Joe's emotional condition and is very closely linked with his immune system. Reactions and emotions such as fear, denial, grief, denial, loss, devaluation, anxiety, anger, rejection, isolation, annoyance, blame apportioning, pity, self-condemnation and suicidal thoughts are common (Moynihan, 1991).

Homosexual males find contracting HIV/AIDS a devasting experience often finding that they are no longer...