In 2009, a UK-wide study¹ reported that over a third of people with HIV – many of them gay men – had experienced discrimination in the previous year, whether from members of their own community, from doctors or other healthcare professionals, or even from other family members. Fear of discrimination can have a profound effect on individuals, preventing them from being open about their condition, and inhibiting the open discussion needed to challenge society’s lack of understanding about HIV.
Cary James, Head of Programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Thirty years on from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV remains surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition. All over the country, our centres come into contact with people who have been routinely discriminated against, hounded from the workplace, barred from venues and services, disowned by their families, attacked and sometimes seriously hurt, all because they have contracted a virus that can be easily controlled with medication. This needs to change.
“We are calling on the gay community to get behind this year’s World AIDS Day campaign, and help us make a dent in HIV-related stigma. You can be as loud and proud as you like, whether its taking on a sponsored challenge, holding a fundraising event, or just buying a red ribbon to show you care. The funds you raise will help us spread the message that people with HIV need support, not judgement.”
For further information on Stand Up, Stand Out, please visit www.tht.org.uk/worldaidsday .
1. Sigma Research (2007 – 2008) What do you need? Findings from a national survey of people with diagnosed HIV.