Half of those living with HIV have experienced discrimination when dating

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Half of the people living with HIV (50%) have faced discrimination due to their status, a new survey reveals.

Despite the medical progress that’s been made over the last 30 years, which now means that people with the virus can live as long and healthily as anybody else, the stigma is still alive.

UK charity Terrence Higgins Trust has shed a light on the extent to which discrimination can affect people living with HIV. They surveyed 1,350 people living with HIV in the UK.

54% had experienced discrimination in relationships

On World AIDS Day, celebrated today (1 December), THT highlighted how discrimination impact the lives of those living with HIV.

More than half of those surveyed (54%) had experienced discrimination in dating and relationships.

Furthermore, more than one quarter (27%) had experienced discrimination from friends. Almost one fifth (18%) had experienced discrimination from family members.

34% and 30% have been discriminated against when accessing public healthcare services and in the workplace respectively.

The consequences of such discrimination have affected those living with HIV. 60% has revealed it had impacted their mental health and self-worth.

More than half of the respondents have also revealed they are afraid to talk openly to family members and partners.

The UK has achieved its target

‘We now have the tools to end HIV transmission here in the UK – a combination of regular testing, PrEP, condoms and treatment as prevention – and it’s vital we continue to ensure people are aware of those tools, know how and are able to access them,’ said Ian Green, chief executive of THT.

Leading up to World AIDS Day, Public Health England has revealed the UK has achieved its target of 90:90:90. It did so a whole year ahead of when it originally aimed to do so, that is in 2020.

This means that 92% of people living with HIV in the UK are diagnosed. Moreover, 98% of those people are on treatment and 97% of those have an undetectable viral load, which means they can’t pass on HIV.

‘However, as ending HIV transmissions in the UK becomes a reality,’ continued Green, ‘we must support those living with the virus to thrive, and end the stigma they face. We must not just focus our efforts on reaching zero transmissions, but also zero stigma.’

What’s next?

‘We’re proud that London has achieved the UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets. However, the “Is HIV Sorted?”‘ survey results demonstrate that we cannot be complacent,’ said Professor Jane Anderson. Anderson is co-chair of Fast Track Cities Initiative Leadership Group.

The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and Gilead Sciences conducted the survey.

A significant proportion of respondents (71% in the UK, 67% in London) would not feel comfortable dating someone who is living with HIV.

Moreover, one-fifth (22%) of respondents would not feel comfortable working with a person living with HIV. Nearly half of those surveyed (45% in the UK, 43% in London) believe that PLHIV should not work as healthcare professionals.

While many are still unaware of about the realities of HIV treatment and secondary transmission, only 41% of respondents across the UK believe that HIV-related stigma is ‘a thing of the past’ in the UK.

‘It is evident from this data that we must not allow HIV to be deprioritized,’ continued Professor Anderson.

‘Education and awareness-raising efforts across the UK must be prioritized to ensure the public are well informed about HIV and understand the issue of HIV-related stigma so we can work together to tackle the significant challenges that still remain in HIV prevention, diagnosis, and care.’

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Author: Stefania Sarrubba

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