shame is a real shame
4% sounds like a low percentage in the grand scheme of things. But what if the phrase ‘of the UK population living with HIV’ is added to the end of it? Now that creates a different story.
4% of people in the UK that have an HIV diagnosis are from an Asian background (National Aids Trust, 2019). That equates to about 4000 people. That’s about 30 double decker buses full of passengers.
But huge proportions of this group are not going for STI testing and the main driving force behind that decision?
THE SO-CALLED SHAME OF STI TESTING
35% of Pakistanis surveyed said that shame was preventing them from getting any STI testing (Hiyos, 2021). 20% were being excluded from their families as a result of their diagnosis (Avert,2019).
Imagine being shunned by your own family for being diagnosed with a type of disease that has been around for centuries. The response would not be the same with a diagnosis of malaria or lung cancer. For that sort of diagnosis, you would be considered a victim of a cruel take-over. But when it comes to STIs, you’re considered the perpetrator of your own fate.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT STI TESTING
In this case, the suggestion might be to speak to a health professional. To get some advice from the people that know best. But for 31% of South Asians living with HIV in the UK, fear of discrimination from a health professional is what’s keeping them at bay (Avert, 2019).
So what can we do? It’s simple really. We need to talk. Talk to each other. Talk to health professionals. Talk on socials. We need to educate to remove the stigma of STIs. The more we talk, the more success we have in addressing the problem.
Educating each other on what STIs are, how they are transferred and how they can be prevented is the key to creating an open discussion about the issue. Once that’s been achieved, then we can stick it to stigma and show those 4000 people that their health and wellbeing is more important than shame.
Avert. 2019. HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom (UK)
Hiyos, 2021. The Desi Project. London: Hiyos.
Nat.org.uk. 2019. UK HIV Statistics | National AIDSTrust