Self stigma is something very familiar within the HIV and AIDS field. Often someone who test HIV positive believes that he or she is not valuable anymore. They fail to accept themselves, or over-blame themselves. They believe that they are incompetent, useless and even dangerous to other people. They believe that they will be dying soon, that they are too bad, too dirty, and too sinful to be accepted and/or to be forgiven.
This kind of stigma is very dangerous as it is often "invisible" - family members and friends might not even be aware of the feelings of this person. And as along as societal stigma related to HIV and AIDS exists, self-stigma will be a reality for many people. If we can eradicate societal stigma, we might be able to minimize self stigma!
This form of stigma was what I have experienced and it's really difficult to overcome with. But thank God we have Jesus Christ to save us and give another chance, another new life!
Self stigma is the reason why a lot of people tested HIV positive hides in the closet. If they continue to do this, they will never know what they are missing.
Next post I will discuss the impact of HIV related stigma.
Source: "Channels of Hope" workshop manual.