Stigma and Identity Construction of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Manipur

By Hoineilhing Sitlhou

Ever since the first patient of HIV/AIDS was detected in Manipur in 1989-1990 among the injecting drug users, the disease has been associated with groups that are marked out as social deviants. Given this association and the fact that the disease has no effective treatment, sufferers faced social rejection and discrimination. The disease was seen as a consequence of life style choices and PLWHAs were denied access to the ‘sick role’. HIV/AIDS acts as a metaphor for moral and physical contamination. The infection confers on the individual a spoilt image and identity. This is reflected in the level of stigmatisation and discrimination directly faced by those affected and vulnerable to it; as also the way PLHAs construct their identities in the light of their infection with the virus. It is also relevant to an understanding of the ways in which treatment of people dying of HIV/AIDS are being organised.

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