AIDS, Stigma and Vulnerability: The Role of the NGOs in Providing Support

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Breno FONTES, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil
Luciane JARDIM, UNISINOS, Brazil

 In this paper we intend to discuss the effects on positive social interaction in the mental health of people living with HIV/AIDS, based on the experience of the project Amigo Positivo, developed by the NGO Educativa, in collaboration with the National Network of People Living with AIDS, Brazil's Ministry of Health, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. One of the most important effects on being HIV seropositive or living with AIDS is the stigma. People living with AIDS suffer discrimination, feeling excluded from social circles because a new identity is built for them. The fear of being excluded has the consequence of impoverishment of the social life, the feeling of abandonment. The effects on health (mental and physical) are devastating. Brazil has faced the AIDS epidemics with a strong political public program of prevention and control, followed by an efficient health support, with medical assistance and provision of drugs for those who need it. But this worldwide recognized health program would not exist if the NGOs have not begun fighting, in the early 80s, for public assistance and against prejudice and stigma. The stigma in that moment was very impressive: AIDS was a disease from evil; people living in sin (homosexuals, prostitutes and drug addicts) were affected due to their life styles. In a deeply catholic country like Brazil, this was a good argument against people with HIV/AIDS. Rebuilding a new identity, working against stigma and promoting positive interactions are the goals of many NGOs. For the Educativa: Ação para Saúde, Educação e Cidadania, a NGO working with people with HIV/AIDS in Alvorada (a city in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), the main question to be worked is the fear of being excluded by friends, family and working circles