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Will I lose my dignity Will someone care Will I wake tomorrow From this nightmare Jonathan Larsons moving lyrics from the hit Broadway musical Rent captures the essence of what people living with HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome struggle with on a day-to-day basis Larson Even though its been 3 decades since the epidemic appeared people still do not fully understand what this virus is Due to the lack of understanding a large stigma has developed against people fighting HIVAIDS People who have been diagnosed with the virus often face a great deal of adversity including poor health care discrimination in the work place and being ostracized in social scenarios This adversity has only fostered the spread of HIVAIDS and makes combating the virus much harder To truly eliminate the threat of HIV the stigma associated with the virus must disappear on all levels There is an innate fear that goes hand-in-hand with HIV Most people are terrified of the disease Denzel Washingtons character Jim Miller in the movie Philadelphia describes this irrational fear perfectly when giving his opening statement to a jury They panicked And in their panic they did what most of us would like to do with AIDS which is to get it and everybody who has it as far away from the rest of us as possible Now the behavior of Andrew Becketts employers may seem reasonable It does to me Philadelphia 4545 People are scared And they have every right to be after all AIDS is a deadly incurable disease Philadelphia 4600 It is this fear that is so inherent with the disease that has enabled the stigmatization to occur People are so blinded by their fear that they do not take the time to understand what the disease really is Because people do not fully understand the disease there are some common misconceptions that have fostered the spread of the associated
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