Healthy Living in the North

People first: Life under stigma

Did you know that people living with HIV still experience stigma and discrimination in our province?

According to the recent BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index research, 52% of participants had confronted stigma in the last year, and 30% reported that stigma or discrimination had caused them to avoid health care services. Stigma and discrimination also caused 24% of respondents to avoid using social services.

December 1, 2019 is World AIDS Day – an opportunity to recognize the achievements in HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, show our support for people living with AIDS, and remember those people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. This year, let’s talk about how we can reduce stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.

Negative stereotypes, or stigma, associated with HIV are rooted in fear, as well as lack of information and awareness about the virus. When we act on these negative stereotypes and treat people with HIV differently, we are exhibiting discrimination. We can help create a safer environment for people living with HIV by knowing the facts about the virus and utilizing inclusive and respectful language.

HIV can affect anyone. Those living with HIV are people first; they are children, siblings, parents, and friends. We need to treat them as such.

Ashley Stoppler

About Ashley Stoppler

Born and raised in Prince George, Ashley is a two-time UNBC graduate. She has worked for Northern Health since 2004 and has held nine positions across the spectrum of health care, ranging from Maternity to Long Term Care, and many areas in between. She’s recently moved into a strategic position with the Regional Chronic Diseases Program, focusing on HIV, Hepatitis C, Chronic Pain and Arthritis. Ashley is active in her community, sitting on the board on the YMCA of Northern BC and teaching yoga in her “spare time.” She also likes to channel her inner Martha Stewart at the sewing machine and in the kitchen, but what brings her the most joy in life is the time she gets to spend adventuring with her husband, infant son, and toddler dog.

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