Your wider community
People with HIV can be welcomed, accepted, supported and loved by the community or communities to which they belong.
But this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, many people in the communities most affected by HIV in the UK – gay men and Africans – have very stigmatising views about HIV. What’s more, people with HIV often stigmatise other people with HIV.
Nevertheless, it’s good to know that many of the most important organisations offering support to people with HIV have their roots in the epidemic. The support they can provide is based on a deep understanding of the impact of living with HIV.
Occasionally prejudice and discrimination can come from neighbours. If you’re a tenant, particularly of a council or housing association, this is something that you could report to your landlord. Harassment will be a breach of a tenancy agreement and people guilty of harassment can be evicted. You may also want to report it to the police. An HIV organisation will be able to help you.
If you don’t feel like complaining, then talking to someone you trust about your experiences might help. Telling yourself what you’ve experienced is wrong is also likely to help.
A source of useful support in either the short- or long-term can be support groups organised by HIV agencies. These can provide an opportunity to talk to meet and talk to other people with HIV about your experiences. Some groups are open to all people with HIV, others are only open to people from certain communities.
If you do join a support group it’s good to know that it will have very strict rules about confidentiality, so you shouldn’t have to worry about people knowing you are going to one.Many people also use the internet as a way of accessing support or meeting other people with HIV. Some specialist HIV sites have chatrooms or blogs that provide an opportunity for people to share experiences and participate in an online community. Although you might find these useful, it’s wise to remember general advice about safety and not to share any personal information. And be careful if arranging to meet someone. If you’re offered advice about HIV treatment it’s wise to check this on a reliable website like www.aidsmap.com or to discuss it with someone at your HIV clinic.