Getting HIV Out of the Closet

Question: How does stigma affect someone with HIV?

Marjorie Hill:  Stigma has kept HIV and AIDS in the closet.  People are still, even in 2010, afraid to tell family members, afraid to tell co-workers.  The Kaiser Foundation did a study a couple of months ago and they interviewed individuals and said, would you prefer to, or not to have a co-worker living with HIV.  Half of the people responded, they would prefer not to.  I’m a clinical psychologist.  I do very little clinical work now, but I run a therapy group for women, a support group for women living with AIDS.  And the women in my group have been living with HIV for 10 to 18 years.  Of the seven women in my group, three of them have not told their sisters—their sisters—that they are living with HIV. 

If any one of them had gotten breast cancer or lupus or you know, any type of significant health threat, they would have told – their sister might have been the first person.  When I pushed them on why they hadn’t said anything, one of the women said to me, if I told my sister that I had HIV, my niece and nephew could not visit me and certainly could not eat at my house. 

You don’t get it from, you know, utensils.  You don’t get it at the Xerox Machine, yet there’s all of this anxiety that persists.  So we have a lot to do to overcome the challenges of stigma.  

Question: Will people sharing their HIV positive status with the public help combat the stigma?

Marjorie Hill:  You know, Bell Hooks, a really phenomenal African-American writer talks about the concept of coming out as really a gift that the gay community has given to society.  That the whole notion of being an example, being a role model, being courageous and sort of putting out who you are to the world is a very positive and affirming thing, both for the individual, but also for society at large.  So absolutely, yes, having HIV positive individuals come out in their faith communities, on their jobs, in their communities, at the club, is a very powerful thing that we at GMHC support all the time. 

Recorded November 4, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler

Even in 2010, people are still worried to share their HIV status with family members and co-workers. But as more people come out, the stigma will begin to abate.

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less