WHAT IS HIV STIGMA?

We all have our role to play in ending the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.  

HIV stigma is negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. It is the prejudice that comes with labeling an individual as part of a group that is believed to be socially unacceptable.

Here are a few examples of stigmatising behaviour:

  • Believing that only certain groups of people can get HIV
  • Feeling that people deserve to get HIV because of their choices
  • Making moral judgments about people who take steps to prevent HIV transmission
  • Spreading information of someone’s HIV status as gossip

What is discrimination?

While stigma refers to an attitude or belief, discrimination is the behaviour that results from those attitudes or beliefs. HIV discrimination is the act of treating people living with HIV differently than those without HIV.

HIV Discrimination can come in many forms, here are some examples

  • A health care professional refusing to provide care or services to a person living with HIV
  • Refusing to be in the same room with someone living with HIV
  • Choosing to not have sex with anyone living with HIV purely because of their HIV status
  • Socially isolating a member of the community or your social group because they are HIV positive
  • Referring to people living with HIV as unclean or dirty.

HIV stigma and discrimination are still an everyday occurrence. A recent study of people living with HIV in Australia found that over 50% had experienced stigma or discrimination based on their HIV status in the past 12 months, and 38% reported being treated differently by a healthcare worker in the past 12 months due to their HIV status.

We all have our role to play in ending the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.