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"Uniforms for HIV/AIDS ‘victims’ not acceptable"
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"Uniforms for HIV/AIDS ‘victims’ not acceptable"

Lyn-Marie BlackmanCreating uniforms for people living with HIV is a questionable proposal, writes Lyn-Marie Blackman, a 27-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Barbados, who argues the concept could do more damage than good.

The well-noted HIV pandemic has been around for the past thirty years. However, HIV has now been deemed a chronic illness, which means that an individual can live a long productive life with it.

I was tweeted an article where the caption read ‘HIV/AIDS victims to wear uniforms’. While it has been described as an unconfirmed media report from a district of Uganda, the idea of this proposal appeared as more or less a game of HIV naming and shaming.

The report sought to highlight that the wearing of uniforms for persons living with HIV would be somewhat of a good way to mitigate the effects of HIV prevalence.

The use of the word ‘victims’ in relation to HIV is so disingenuous, disheartening and borne out of ignorance when we have seen the many strides that people living with HIV. Two striking examples are Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Jr., a former USA professional basketball player, and Gregory Louganis, an American Olympic diver and author. These two individuals have utilized their skills, resources and time to help educate others about HIV prevention. They encourage people living with HIV to understand that they are not a victim but a conqueror.

The argument placed on the table of ‘branding’ people living with HIV by wearing a uniform was that no one would seek to interfere with such a person. When policies are designed they can do one of two things: either enhance or damage a society.  One side may say that this proposed policy has the benefit of safeguarding people living with HIV from being bullied, thus protecting them. The flip side is that it can cause one to be ostracized, denied a job or suitable living conditions, or even the right to live life with dignity. The recommendation that people living with HIV should wear uniforms is in breach of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It defies human right number Two (2) related to discrimination, human right number Twelve (12) on the right to privacy, and human right Twenty-eight (28) which pushes for a fair and free world.

However, the very suggestion of wanting an individual to wear a uniform in itself carries the connotation of HIV shaming. It is just appalling. I know that several people living with HIV spread the infection regardless of how it affects another. These two individual groups should be treated as distinct and separate from each other, which mean better policies must be enacted to combat those who spread HIV intentionally, and to distinguish from those who do not.

photo credit: agroffman via photopin ccphoto credit: agroffman via photopin cc

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About me: I am a conservative and articulate individual with an innate desire to see love, peace and unity triumph. My interests lie in medical research. I enjoy researching medical news from around the world and reporting it in my monthly newsletter entitled L.I.F.E.

I love biomedical science and believe it holds the key to a healthier society. I aspire to become a medical researcher and writer. My focus now is obtaining more exposure for my newsletters: L.I.F.E. and The Believer.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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