My job at Hyacinth is to help people with spiritual healing. And my experience has taught me that the source of spiritual and emotional injury for so many of our clients is stigma. I describe stigma as the emotional effect on a person who is made to feel like they are less worthy in the eyes of others because they are “different.” Rejection, isolation, mocking comments, rude behavior, bullying, and sometimes even violence cause the injury—spiritually, mentally, and even bodily. Most sadly is that I sometimes meet people who think less of themselves because of who they are. Stigma for them has been internalized.
Stigma perpetuates the epidemic, too. It keeps people from knowing if they have HIV and from being in care. Stigma hurts all of us in so many ways. Resisting stigma, within and without, is important to healing our communities and ourselves.