All of us have experienced stigma or discrimination at some point in our lives. Maybe we have been discriminated against because of our skin colour, because we are male or female, because of our size… Some of us may have been bullied or teased at school, but some of us may be stigmatised against as adults. Sadly, because there are still a lot of misunderstandings about HIV, there is still a lot of stigma in South Africa.

Why do people stigmatise?  We stigmatise against others when we don’t understand or when we are afraid.  If we don’t have enough information about HIV, we might get scared that we are going to get infected. Sometimes we can tease other people so that they don’t tease us.

Stigma must be challenged!  If someone is being stigmatised or discriminated against because of their HIV status, they have the right to speak out about it if they feel comfortable doing so.

Example SMS:

Have you ever been stigmatised or discriminated against because you are HIV positive?  Share your story with the rest of the group and tell us how you coped.

What do you think the best way of fighting against HIV-stigma is?  There’s no right or wrong answer – we want to know what you think!

Who can help you fight stigma in your community?  Tell us who in your neighbourhood is supportive of people living with HIV!

Stigma is caused when something is not understood.  Be patient with people who stigmatise and help them to understand HIV, even if it makes you angry!

We can end stigma by talking openly about HIV.  When you feel comfortable, share your status with people and help them understand more.