stigma

Recent posts

HIV/AIDS And Stigma: What You Can Do

When my introductory MSP post went live, I unsurprisingly shared it on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, wanting my friends to see the great work I was helping to produce.  And many of my online friends contacted me to let me know how much they liked that I was contributing to such a fun, sex-positive website.  However, one good friend and colleague was disappointed:  “Craig,” he said, “there’s one very important thing that is missing when you talk about your experience with sex, and I think the fact that you left it off shows how important it is to talk about.” As I scanned back through my introduction, I realized what I had done.  Despite having spent the entirety of 2009 providing services to people living with HIV, I had neglected to mention this in my intro.  I could give all sorts of reasons –  I didn’t feel like it was sex-positive enough,  I didn’t think it went with the feeling of the site, etc. But the bottom line is that this site exists to talk about sex, relationships, and pleasure for EVERYONE, and that includes people who are living with HIV. The fact that I missed an opportunity to talk about a group that is very important to me demonstrates how often stigma, fear, and misunderstanding can lead to discrimination and invisibility, whether it is from something as simple as a blog post or as complex as the institution of marriage.  This can happen either unintentionally, as I hope was my case, or simply because this group is feared and stigmatized, and is therefore left out of the conversation.  I think stigma regarding people living with HIV can be reduced in two ways:  knowledge about the disease and familiarizing yourself with those living with HIV in your community. Continue Reading →

It’s not all physical: Better sex and relationships through communication and less shame about sex

Contrary to stereotype about sex-crazed adolescents, this article that describes a study of 4,000 teenagers and young adults suggests that they want more information about aspects of sex that have to do with handling emotions, communicating needs and otherwise being successful at relationships. They also asked for smaller classes, separate by gender (at least some of the time), both of which would seemingly contribute to being able to talk and learn about sex with “less embarrassment”. Stigma and shame around sex have been described by former US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher as contributing factors to cultures, like in the US, that have unusually high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STI) and unintended pregnancy. Parents who want to learn more about raising sexually healthy teenagers might like this book. Adults who pretty much never got decent education about how to make their relationships work might check out this one. Continue Reading →