TANAH PAPUA HAS THE HIGHEST HIV/AIDS INFECTION RATES IN INDONESIA
Many improvements have been made to create better access to quality care and medicine. Still, the biggest obstacles that remain are the stigmas and discrimination directed toward people who live with HIV/AIDS or at a risk of HIV infection.
The majority of the public in Tanah Papua still perceives HIV/AIDS to mean suffering, dishonor, and death. Due to fear of discrimination people often postpone or avoid getting tested for HIV. Without knowing their status, individuals who have contracted HIV are less likely to take preventive measures and will often transmit the virus to their spouses or significant others. Stigma and discrimination also discourage those already living with HIV/AIDS to seek out lifesaving treatments such as (ARV) Antiretroviral medicine necessary to maintain their health by suppressing the virus’ progress in the body.
Fear of abuse, persecution, and ostracism from family members and the community have made secrecy and denial the primary concern over seeking care. Moreover, internal stigma perpetuates shame, guilt, rejection, and hopelessness that undervalue social roles and a sense of belonging. In the end, suffering and mortality are inevitable. It's a vicious cycle because the images of anguish and death reinforce the stigma and discrimination.
I am Positif, profiles seven individuals who are HIV positive. Contrary to the negative stereotype, they are strong, healthy, productive, resilient, and hopeful. They are devoted parents, loving sons and daughters, and contributing members to their families and communities. Their incredible testimonies are not only a source of inspiration but also act as evidence necessary to counter the misconceptions of the illness and to help end stigma and discrimination in Tanah Papua.