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Since the appearance of AIDS in the late seventies and early eighties the disease has had attached to it a significant social stigma This stigma has manifested itself in the forms of discrimination and fear of people living with AIDS PLWAs As a result the social implications of the disease have been removed from people with other life threatening conditions to PLWAs Unfortunately they are not only faced with a terminal illness but also social isolation and constant discrimination throughout society Various explanations have been suggested as to the underlying causes of these discriminatory stigmas Many studies point to the relationship the disease has with deviant behavior while others suggest that fear of contagion is the actual culprit When examining the existing literature and putting it into societal context it could lead one to believe that there is no one cause of this societal phobia Instead there would appear to be associated factors that influence societys attitudes towards AIDS and PLWAs Hopefully this analysis will offer an examination of the stigmatization process associated with AIDS and how to counter the effects of stigma This is of particular pertinence to the field of social work due to our growing involvement with the HIV positive population As the number of people infected with HIV increases social workers are and will be increasingly called upon to deal with and serve PLWAs Although not all social workers chose to work with PLWAs the escalating incidences of HIV infection has created a situation in which sera positive people are and will be showing up more often in almost all areas of social work practice One of the most clearly and often identified causes of AIDS related stigma is its association to deviant behavior The disease has been strongly linked to the homosexual community drug use by those who are HIV positive unprotected sexual promiscuity and other sorts of sexual practice OHare et al 1996 Canadian Association of Social
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