Living with HIV/AIDS

1 December, 2019

World AIDS Day is commemorated every 1st December, aiming to unite people in the fight against HIV/AIDS and show support to those living with the disease.

‘How HIV patients construct liveable identities in a shame based culture: the case of Singapore’ (International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 2017) by A/P Esther Goh (NUS Social Work) and Ms Lai Peng Ho (Communicable Disease Centre, Tan Tock Seng Hospital) conveys the lived experiences of four ethnic Chinese living with HIV in Singapore and explains how they reconstructed new ‘liveable’ identities that helped them mask their shame and guilt from having HIV. The study provides an interesting perspective by giving us insights on a Chinese HIV patient’s sense of shame. The two women interviewed regularly used the words 羞 [xiū] ‘shame’ and 辱 [rǔ] ‘disgrace’ when they described their feelings about getting infected with HIV. When combined, 羞辱 [xiū rǔ] expresses a sense of unjustified humiliation. The authors hypothesize that this is because both women had contracted the disease from their husbands and not due to their own promiscuous behaviour, which many people may presume. On the other hand, the two men interviewed used the words 丢脸 [diū liǎn] ‘to lose face’ or 没脸 [méi liǎn] ‘ashamed’ instead, which denotes guilt since they felt their illness could potentially cause them and their loved ones to lose face. It is hoped that greater awareness of the social stigma faced by people with HIV could help society be more empathetic towards them.

Read the article here: