Stigma exposed

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01 Dec 2014

A recent New Zealand survey exploring reactions to people with HIV makes for depressing reading. The research — conducted by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation — shows stigma is still very much an issue with nearly a quarter of respondents saying they would be uncomfortable being friends with someone HIV.

Despite being aware of how HIV is transmitted, 47% of participants said they would be uncomfortable sharing a home with someone living with HIV; 56% said they would feel uncomfortable having food prepared for them by someone living with HIV; while 87% of people were uncomfortable having sexual contact with someone living with HIV.

“HIV stigma is one of the devastating parts of the virus,” said New Zealand AIDS Foundation chief Shaun Robinson. “There are no medications that can ease the effects of social isolation, or being avoided by family or friends or treated as someone to be feared.”

The stigma surrounding HIV is spotlighted in a short film, More Than HIV, which aims to tackle discrimination by putting a human face to the virus . “The best way to combat stigma is to show people as people,” said Robinson.