Saturday, 22 November 2008

What Will It Take to End HIV Stigma and Discrimination?

Washington: A group of high-level international researchers, program implementers, activists and donors met earlier this week to discuss the urgent need for a focus on HIV stigma and discrimination as part of the global response to HIV and AIDS.

“Stigma and discrimination is an issue that touches everyone,” says Khuat Thu Hong, of the Institute for Social Development Studies, Vietnam, who participated in the Nov. 17 event. At the meeting’s conclusion, the group identified five priorities to strengthen HIV-fighting efforts. Top among them was a call to add ending stigma and discrimination as part of the three-pronged global approach of universal prevention, treatment and care. Evidence shows that fear of HIV stigma and its consequences – such as the loss of a job or property, threats of violence, abandonment and poor medical care – remains high and undermines current prevention, treatment and care programs. To make the most of funds to fight HIV, attention and resources must go to addressing the social drivers of the epidemic, including stigma and discrimination.

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