HIV AIDS Stigma and education

How to Cope with Stigma

How to Cope with the AIDS Stigma

There is no simple answer for how to deal with the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.
  • Ask your doctor about local HIV/AIDS support groups. Or, ask to be referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist or clinical social worker. (Currently we do have a local support group that can offer you help and support with many issues.)
  • Find a hotline by looking in the yellow pages or online. Some search terms to look for include “AIDS, HIV Educational Referral and Support Services” or “Social Service Organizations.” Ask for practical advice or emotional support and these services can also refer you to local HIV/AIDS self-help organizations.

Commit to tackling the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV
People living with HIV in the USA continue to face stigma and experience HIV-related discrimination. HIV discrimination is seen in all
aspects of an individual’s life – from employers, local community members, police and worryingly the health and social care system. US research
has shown that one in five people living with HIVhave experienced verbal harassment or threats.
A third reported having their HIV status disclosed without consent and one in five reported being treated differently by general practitioners.
Tackling stigma is vital to improving the lives of people living with HIV and is integral to tackling HIV.

  • There is a cyclical relationship between stigma and HIV; people who experience stigma and discrimination are marginalised and made more vulnerable to HIV, while those living with HIV are more vulnerable to experiencing stigma and discrimination.
  • Myths and misinformation increase the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS.
  • Roughly one in eight people living with HIV is being denied health services because of stigma and discrimination.
  • Adopting a human rights approach to HIV and AIDS is in the best interests of public health and is key to eradicating stigma and discrimination

HIV-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes and abuse directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. In 35% of countries with available data, over 50% of people report having discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV. Stigma and discrimination also makes people vulnerable to HIV. Those most at risk to HIV (key affected populations) continue to face stigma and discrimination based on their actual or perceived health status, race, socioeconomic status, age, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity or other grounds. Stigma and discrimination manifests itself in many ways. Discrimination and other human rights violations may occur in healthcare settings, barring people from accessing health services or enjoying quality health care. Some people living with HIV and other key affected populations are shunned by family, peers and the wider community, while others face poor treatment in educational and work settings, erosion of their rights, and psychological damage. These all limit access to HIV testing, treatment and other HIV services.

The People Living with HIV Stigma Index documents the experiences of people living with HIV. As of 2015, more than 70 countries were using the HIV Stigma Index, more than 1,400 people living with HIV had been trained as interviewers, and over 70,000 people with HIV have been interviewed. Findings from 50 countries, indicate that roughly one in every eight people living with HIV is being denied health services because of stigma and discrimination.