Dealing with any illness can be difficult, but the stigma associated with certain diseases can add additional hardship in the form of judgment and social exclusion. Some illnesses are more heavily stigmatized than others; HIV/AIDS has been particularly stigmatized since the beginning of the epidemic.
We made tremendous progress, but we still have a ways to go, and since we’re dealing with such bedrock values and issues around sexuality, sexual activity, drug use, it’s going to be slow to change some of the remaining amounts of the value issues that lead to stigma. —Ronald Johnson, age 58. [...]
Many diseases and infections affect a specific part of the body, but HIV lives in the immune system and therefore ultimately impacts the whole body. While health care providers are trained to be experts in highly focused areas within the mental and physical health fields, they need to be sensitive to how the lines between their specialties can blur and work closely with other providers to maximize benefits for patients. Coordinating care is critical, as many medications can become dangerous or ineffective when combined. Side effects for medicines addressing physical ailments can include mental health issues like depression, and medications addressing mental health conditions such as depression may include physical symptoms like nausea or fluctuations in weight. [...]