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I was given the opportunity to work with a nurse who is presently HIV for the past two year now, her problem is to coming to grip with the reality of her status, however, after about three hour she was willing to open up and discuss her problem, and even informed me that her collages at the hospital is advising her to leave her profession and seek a next job.


However, I advised her that is not the right think to do, but however, she should educate herself more about her situation which will empower her to assist herself and even members of the nursing profession, where by they are all lack of the basic knowledge of this illness, moreover they are in the possession to help member of the public on the prevention and guide lines of HIV and its effect of the nation at large.


This event now tell me that we PLWHA are not working [doing] enough to combat stigma and discrimination in the Health System.


I know that my work is getting more harder to deal with.



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Comment by Aruna Hewapathirane on April 22, 2011 at 8:05am

I totally agree with you Nicole that one should act in a responsible manner and engage in safe sex BUT one must also try to understand the circumstances, especially when one is a female and in a situation where most times the partner will simply refuse to use a condom though being told of the persons sero-status ? Being under the influence of liquor also contributes to this...


actus me invito factus non est meus actus the act done by me against my will is not my act ? You see a person discloses as best he/she can BUT the partner simply does not care or is so much under the influence of alcohol or desire they will yet proceed. So in such a situation who is to blame ?

Disclosing your HIV status to partners can be emotionally difficult, and it’s a challenge that’s not going to disappear.

Opening up about having HIV means a shift in your relationships and in your sex life. You may feel scared about disclosing, which is totally normal: hard, but normal. You might fear…

  • you’ll be rejected
  • your partner will accuse you of being unfaithful
  • your partner will leave you
  • your partner will not want to touch you
  • your partner will refuse to wear a condom or barrier to decrease infection risk
  • you’ll be at risk of violence
  • you’ll be cut off from money
  • you’ll be cut off from food, housing, and/or childcare
  • you’ll be cut off from drugs
These feelings have been experienced by lots of women with HIV, A person’s ability to cope with adverse responses to public disclosure will often depend on 'their' level of support. So we need to understand the dynamics involved.



You will find this interesting and also useful:


Once I agree totally that every positive person should engage in safe-sex and disclose but the reality we face my dear most times is a daunting task... we are all human - we all have weaknesses. What is truly frustrating is when one does disclose to see your partner refuse to wear a condom.


I am curious Nicole, have you asked these women "why" they engage in constant unprotected sex when they are aware of the possible risks ?


PEACE to you my sister and In Solidarity !

Comment by Nicole Rhonda Cole on April 22, 2011 at 1:07am
The Facts Aruna are that PLWHAs need to act 'responsibly' and to 'disclose' their status to 'new' partners! To do otherwise is wholly unacceptable! I do not support persons who are 'knowingly', 'willfully' and 'intentionally' infecting people! This behaviour is 'irresponsible' and 'reckless'! I have observed the behaviour for four years now and I am very 'perturbed' that there are those who "intentionally" infect others with HIV! It is a crime to "intentionally" harm another and thats what I am stating in the Law; 'Mens Rea is a latin term which means "malice afore thought"! All of us have a responsibility to stop the spread of HIV and this can only be done through 'serious interventions' which aims to tackle the 'ROOT' of the problem! Disclosure is that 'ROOT' Aruna!
Comment by Aruna Hewapathirane on April 21, 2011 at 4:22pm

Disclosure can have an extreme and immediate disruptive impact on one's entire life and one needs to put in place support systems and mechanisms that will be long term and sustainable just in case things start to fall apart once one goes public and discloses ?


With all due respect the only 'crime' this nurse has committed is trying to live an empowered and productive life ? And she is a health care worker who is a care giver, a profession we should have great respect and admiration for since how many of us would be willing to do the same ?


Having full blown AIDS and being HIV+ are two vastly different scenarios. From what Lyndon has shared I feel this nurse could yet be in denial and/or self-stigma both which can be overcome IF one has correct support systems and the right information ?


She is actually in a position where she can effect meaningful change ? She IS a trained health care professional who is also HIV+. Who better to share and transfer knowledge ? Especially her own lived experiences ? Once she comes to terms with the ailment and if she is not stigmatised by her colleagues she will be a great asset to the hospital not a burden or liability.


If we who ARE positive start being judgemental instead of identifying how and where to provide the necessary support and correct information HOW do we change anything on the ground ?


She IS positive, she IS currently healthy and physically fit enough to work. We should provide her the will if nothing else to continue amidst what ever obstacles she may be facing right now.


Stigma is a vicious circle, usually driven by silence which leads to ignorance which fuels FEAR and consequently stigma and discrimination. So instead of being judgemental why not give her the opportunity to contribute productively and in a meaningful manner ?



Comment by Nicole Rhonda Cole on April 21, 2011 at 1:03pm
It has been my scientific observation that "disclosure" has become a significant social problem among persons living with HIV/AIDS. The Health Centre where I practice has a 'disclosure committee' to assist with 'disclosure' albeit clinically. However, it has been noted that many women are returning pregnant for different partners without disclosing their status hence promoting the spread of the virus and that's why a 'disclosure committee was crafted. while there is a huge cry pertaining to stigma and discrimination, there must also be a huge cry about 'non-disclosure' and the concomittant spread of HIV by persons who 'deliberately' withholds information from their 'new' partner. To knowingly and intentionally harm another person is "mens rea' in Criminal Law i.e MALICE AFORE THOUGHT! This modicum of behaviour is unacceptable among PLWHAs and the Health Care System in Guyana has now began to take note of the significant social problem. While I am in full empathy with PLWHAs they too have a RESPONSIBILITY to not 'willfully' and 'intentionally' spread HIV. This is a Crime!!
Comment by Autry Haynes on April 21, 2011 at 12:17pm
Thanks Lyndon for the 'WILL' to share this experience. In many communities "stigma / discrimination" remains the greates threat in stimulating appropriate response to HIV.
Comment by Gaston on April 21, 2011 at 11:48am

Hi Lyndon, first of all, it's great to hear from you again. I hope you and the other facilitators are doing well. I was last week in Papua New Guinea, where in one of the biggest hospitals they actually purposefully recruted PLHIV as volunteers to help in the hospital. This had 4 positive effects:

1. They felt very much included,

2. They were the perfect role models for all the PLHIV patients that ART adherence is possible and has good effects on your health.

3. It showed that it is totally possible to live a strong, confident life with the virus.

4. The nurses and the PLHIV volunteers all shared the same room, cups, plates and food to demonstrate complete inclusion to everybody.


The nurse that shared it thought that having PLHIV working in the hospital was a key to their success of adherence with the patients!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on April 21, 2011 at 7:56am

Dear Lydon,


Thanks for the blog. Wanted to share some experiences on disclosure and stigma


MariJo's experience from Spain


From Mali by Dramane (with English translation)


From India by Prabakar


Warm regards,




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