You are here

Karta – HIV stigma changed my whole life

young Indonesian man looks to camera
Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

I went to med school in 2008. In 2015, I finished my study and started my practice. It was a  year after that that I got sick. I was so weak, and I lost 27 kilograms. Eventually, I went for a medical examination and was advised to have an HIV test. It came out positive. I had to rest and started to take ARVs. Thank God the meds are working well.

But ever since then my whole life changed, my colleagues started to distance themselves from me and the hospital I was about to start working at refused to hire me, after I disclosed my HIV status. In the end I had to leave my hometown to escape the shame and judgement.  Now, my relationships with the people around me have gone sour. I left my partner of 2 years because I didn’t want him to suffer too. I sometimes wish this was just a bad dream. The guilt, anger, and loneliness... I am now working as a medical editor and hope that this will get better, but I still feel that I don’t know who I can go to for help

Different people will have different experiences when disclosing their status to others, for Karta the stigma he faced meant that this was a very painful time for him. However, this isn’t the case for everyone, many people are surprised by how supportive their friends and family are.  To make sure no one has to go through what Karta did, we have to keep challenging HIV stigma whenever we see it. If you are facing troubles like Karta, there are places you can go for support. Look online to see if there are support groups in your area, and talk to your healthcare advisor as they might be able to offer you guidance. Whatever you do, remember your rights, living with HIV shouldn’t stop you from living a normal and happy life.   

*These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes. Some names have been changed to protect identities.

HELP US HELP OTHERS is helping to prevent the spread of HIV and improve sexual health by giving people trusted, up-to date information.

We provide all this for FREE, but it takes time and money to keep going.

Can you support us and protect our future?

Every contribution helps, no matter how small.

Photo credit: © 


Last updated: 15 April 2020