One Man’s Struggle

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The stigma surrounding HIV continues even into the 21st century, all over the world. Although this virus has been mostly under control for several years, there are still many skeptical people. While people tend to associate HIV with homosexuality and unprotected sex, there are actually an exceptional amount of cases that are not sexually related at all. According to the United States Department of Health & Human Services, 36.7 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Of these people, 1.8 million are children, most of whom were infected by their HIV positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

One young adult in South Africa by the name of Sabelo Chonco detailed his experience with HIV and the challenges that he has faced because of the disease. Chonco most likely contracted the virus from his late mother who never disclosed the status of her health before her death, out of fear of being judged. He explained that because of the virus, he was unable to participate in the conventional behaviors that teens partake in. Things like dating and sex were all off-limits to Chonco, as he was unknowingly carrying around the HIV virus until the age of fourteen. As non-diseased individuals who have never suffered from an incurable disease, we take these seemingly normal activities for granted. Chonco noted that he was afraid to interact with those of the opposite sex, or even go to the clinic to get in medicine out of fear of being judged.

Although Chonco has never been sexually active, he still faces the stigma that goes along with being HIV positive. Because of the poor information that is given to those in his country regarding HIV/AIDS, Chonco and his community are faced with many unaswered questions. He feels that the more people he can speak with and educate, the less stigma there will be surrounding the virus.