Throughout the timeline of HIV/AIDS there has been a stigma surrounding the disease and those who suffer from it. Originally the disease was called Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) because primarily, homosexual men were affected most (“Gay Men and the History of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program”). Because so little was known about the disease, people began to assume homosexual men were responsible for it. At the time, being homosexual was already a social taboo, but once news of this disease spread, the stigma became worse.

An image of Ryan White.

Even when more knowledge was gained, the stigma lasted outside of the medical community, and everyone who contracted the disease, gay or not, was shunned from society. An example of this is Ryan White. According to the Health Resources and Service Administration, Ryan White was a 13-year-old boy who received AIDS from a blood transfusion for a medical condition called Hemophilia. He faced AIDS-related discrimination and had to fight in court to be able to go to school (“Who Was Ryan White”).

The less knowledge there is about any given topic, the more stigma and ignominy are associated with it, and HIV/AIDS was no exception. The stigmas associated with this disease affected the lifestyles of the infected and prevented them from doing everyday things. Even though these stigmas somewhat exist today, they are not as extreme as they were in the 80s and 90s. This can be attributed to centers like the Stony Brook medical center using education and research to reduce the fear surrounding the disease and therefore, reduce the stigmas.