Creator: Melissa Meinhart
Title: Global action to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination
Author(s): Stigma Action Network
Guest editors: Anne L. Stangl and Cynthia I. Grossman
Source: Journal of the International AIDS Society
Date of Publication: November 2013
To reach the vision of an AIDS-free generation and optimize the impact of recent biomedical progress, a focus must be placed on addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Empirically derived data highlights the breadth of impact that HIV-related stigma and discrimination have on all members of society. The estimated 50-60% of HIV-positive people who are unaware of their status are often unable to exercise their right to health, non-discrimination and freedom from violence. At the 2011 UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Member States committed to the goal of reducing stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV.
The People Living with HIV (PLHIV) Stigma Index serves as both an assessment and a community engagement and empowerment tool. This practical framework defines specific domains, including drivers, facilitators, intersecting stigmas and manifestations of stigma, that can be shifted through programmatic efforts, and it proposes measures to assess each domain.
To further advance the scientific evidence base regarding stigma and discrimination reduction and allow for the identification of effective interventions that could be scaled up by national governments, it is critical for the research community to:
- clearly link intervention activities to the domains of stigma to be shifted;
- assess the stigma domains in a consistent manner; and
- link stigma and discrimination reduction with HIV prevention, care and treatment outcomes (e.g., uptake, adherence and retention of ART).
This article highlights the inarguable fact that HIV-related stigma and discrimination continues to hamper prevention and treatment efforts. Evidence indicates that HIV-related stigma and discrimination are barriers to HIV testing, sero-status disclosure, retention in care, and uptake of and adherence to ART. Stigma and discrimination must be consciously addressed in programming to effectively optimize innovative biomedical advances including, voluntary medical male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis and ART for the purposes of extending the lives of PLHIV and providing HIV prevention benefits for their sexual partners.