“I’m a woman, a sister, a daughter, wife and mother. I have HIV.”

HIV is a manageable condition thanks to medical advancements.   But its psychological aspects can be far more destructive, writes Deirdre Cashion.

It would be easy to write about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in the all-too-familiar context of social disadvantage, hard core drug use and promiscuous sexual behaviour.  But that would miss the point.

HIV is like many serious illnesses or diseases, its onset triggered by what is euphemistically referred to as ‘risky behaviour’.  Yet we all engage in ‘risky behaviour’ to a greater or lesser degree.

We smoke to excess; we drink to excess; we eat to excess and fail to exercise.  We engage in unprotected sex.  We often put our fragile lives in harm’s way with just a fleeting thought for our physical wellbeing and those dependent on us.

So why does a diagnosis of HIV still carry with it such deep-seated social stigma and severe psychological turmoil for those infected with the illness? Read more