HIV/AIDS: Tackling Misinformation And Ending The Stigma

Stop The Stigma

World AIDS Day

Every year, on the 1st of December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. The day is set aside to show support for people living with HIV/AIDS, to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses and to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

The Human Immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s defense systems against infections and some types of cancer. Without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The condition can take from 10 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of severe clinical manifestations including certain cancers or infections.

Over the years, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has remained a major global health issue. According to the World Health Organization [WHO], HIV has claimed over 36 million lives worldwide since the condition was first reported in 1981. WHO also estimates that in 2020 there were about 1.5 million people newly infected with HIV, with about 37.7 million people living with the virus. In the year 2020 alone, an estimated 680,000 people died from HIV-related causes.

World AIDS Day/WHO HIV Global Estimate

Although great progress have been made with a rapid reduction of death rate and a small reduction in the yearly rate of new HIV infections, HIV continues to be a threat to public health.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day celebration is “End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics”. This year’s event is aimed at raising awareness for one of the numerous challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS and highlighting the urgent need to end the inequalities that drive AIDS. Currently, there is a global effort led by UNAIDS to end AIDS as a public health issue by the year 2030.

As we gear our efforts towards eliminating the growing inequalities surrounding access to essential HIV services, on this World AIDS Day, it is also important to focus our attention towards ending the stigma and discrimination associated with living with HIV/AIDS.

Ending The Stigma And Discrimination

HIV stigma and discrimination is rooted in a fear of HIV, due to lack of information and several misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV today. In addition, many people think of HIV as a disease that only affects certain groups. This leads to negative value judgements about people who are living with HIV.

HIV stigma and discrimination affect the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV. According to the Centre for Disease Control [CDC], some people living with HIV often internalize the stigma they experience and begin to develop a negative self-image. They may fear they will be discriminated against or judged negatively if their HIV status is revealed. These feelings can keep people from getting tested and treated for HIV.

HIV/AIDS Stop The Stigma

The first step to ending HIV stigma and discrimination is to create conversations surrounding the subject. People should be willing to talk openly about HIV/AIDS. Discussing HIV/AIDS should no longer be seen as a ‘taboo’.

Creating discussions about HIV/AIDS will also create opportunities to correct misconceptions and help others learn more about HIV/AIDS. This is another step to ending HIV stigma and discrimination. With the right information, numerous myths, outdated beliefs and misconceptions about how HIV/AIDS will be eradicated.

Here are a few interesting facts about HIV/AIDS:

  1. HIV is not the same as AIDS.
  2. HIV/AIDS can’t be passed through casual contact like hugging and kissing
  3. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PreP) and condoms are effective in reducing HIV transmission.
  4. Treatment as Prevention (TasP) is highly effective in stopping HIV transmission.
  5. Misinformation promotes stigma

People living with HIV/AIDS should not be discriminated against or treated as being socially unacceptable. To end this, people need to be armed with the right information and become more aware of the facts about HIV/AIDS. Share facts, not fear.

Visit our YouTube channel, LivinghealthTV, to learn more about HIV/AIDS.

5 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About HIV/AIDS
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