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The perception of HIV/AIDS among the East Indian popultion in Guyana is one met

with widespead irrationality and often ignorant behaviour. East Indian households
tend to have a father or mother figure that is deemed the head of that particular
household and due to old customs, they have old fashioned views on certain
aspects of life. Given the lack of education concerning an important health isue
such as HIV, the way it is handled by these persons, is just like their attitude
towards it, old-fashioned. This is bascially where if a family member who is
promiscuous, has contracted HIV, the norm for these bread-winners is to look down
up that individual and treat them differently that before. In this scenario, a sense of
support is lost which can ultimately lead to the affected individual being pressured
into making suicidal acts a reality. Overall, there IS stigma and discrimination from
the head of the family because contracting a disease as such is deemed a sin and
not worthy of the attention of the family.
Also among the East Indianss perception of HIV is that when one has contracted the
virus, that it is a death sentence but are not aware that it is merely a life sentence.
This stems from, once again, the lack of education concerning the disease which
can manifest in a fightening way in someone who has been infected. This person
will feel like it is the end of the world and because they have heard of no cure, that
this disease will kill them sooner or later. They are unaware of ARVs and they also
can refuse to accept counselling from someone who is an expert in the field of
medicine or who is a peer educator.
East Indians are also of the opinion that this disease is contagious. This can be
detrimental to ones self esteem through their peers. In the East Indian
communities, the onset of HIV contraction in an individual can breed bouts of
stigma and discrimination from friends of the same ethnicity. The friends treat the
infected person as if they are untouchable and as such the usual camaraderie and
sessions of hanging out stop abruptly. The friends can sometimes be as harsh as
to plunder unnecessary comments about this persons sexual behaviour publicly
and can often show many bouts of ridicule to this person as well. Again, this can
lead to more harbouring of suicidal thoughts than before as the only persons that
they felt like talking to to have a sense of trust have been dispelled and thus the
infected persons self esteem can take a tumble.
East Indians, like most ethnicities, can also suffer from stigma and discrimination in
the work environnment. The bosses/managers of some businesses, who are from an
East Indian background will tend to discriminate an employee just because he/she
has HIV. The person under his wing is perceived as weak, ailing and useless
in his/hers eyes even though the infected person has all of their physical and
mental faculties intact. This is a mental perception that persons with HIV are not
meant to carry on working and that they are not capable of tasks when in fact the
manifestations (AIDS) which have an onset some 10-15 years after infections arre
present. The head also can think that if his customers learn of the fact that an
employee of his is infected, that they can end their support of his business and thus

he can lose vital captial income. This can further cause the individual that is
infected to come under immense scrutiny and thus can be ejected or fired from
his/her job.