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The Reality of HIV and AIDS Related Stigma and Discrimination in Southern Africa

Stigma has prehistoric roots. In ancient Greece, slaves or criminals would be branded or physically masked to show that they were outcasts. This is where the term 'stigma' originated. Stigma involves negative thoughts or prejudices about people from particular groups or with certain characteristics. Self-stigma, involving feelings of shame, guilt and fear among infected persons, is the basis of all forms of stigma. Stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS are great barriers to preventing further infections and providing adequate care, support and treatment, and are found in every country and region of the world. Much of the stigma, faced by People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHA), builds on existing prejudices related to race, gender, socio-economic status, culture and other similar categories in society.