When we talk about sexually transmitted conditions, we inevitably land on the concept of "stigma." Stigma refers to a literal or figurative mark of shame. People face stigmatization for all sorts of reasons: their sexual orientation, their gender expression or because of some unique physical or mental characteristic they possess.

While stigma can have an oppressive presence in a person's life, it is not in and of itself evidence of discrimination. When a person has difficulty accessing any kind of health service due to their sexual history, however, the line between stigma and discrimination becomes blurred.

Stigma as gender and class warfare

Disambiguation between stigma and discrimination is important in a medical context. To understand this line of thinking, we must acknowledge that discrimination is not necessarily or inherently active or aggressive. Passive discrimination exists insidiously and causes its own unique brand of damage to the collective social psyche.

To speak about the rampant influence discrimination has on our society should bear no judgment or discomfort for the speaker. And yet, because discrimination is such an ugly word, we gloss over the implication of discrimination