Stigma and discrimination

Stigma and discrimination

More than three decades after the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed in Australia people living with HIV still face unacceptable levels of discrimination and stigma. Stigma has long been recognised as a serious and debilitating feature of the HIV epidemic.

NAPWHA believes that, alongside a comprehensive effort to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination, supporting people with HIV in their capacity to build resilience as a response to these issues is an important part of ensuring people with HIV are enabled to flourish.


Despite welcome advances in HIV treatment, prevention, care and support, it has been identified that many people living with HIV continue to face potentially significant issues that may affect their ability to flourish. Among these issues are:

  • The continuing impact of HIV-related stigma and discrimination
  • The effects of varying level of knowledge about HIV, and its prevention, treatment and management within the general Australian community and among health care providers
  • Social isolation
  • Cultural or language barriers
  • The effects of living long-term with HIV
  • Specific needs in relation to particular communities and the effect of HIV including: gender-relates issues, geographical isolation, or issues in relation to the use of injecting drugs.

There is currently not a whole-of-sector approach to these issues, nor a comprehensive framework for jurisdictions that will enable the development of consistent, culturally competent responses to reducing stigma and discrimination and supporting resilience jurisdictions and at all levels of the HIV partnership response to drive progress on addressing these concerns.

NAPWHA’s Stigma and Resilience Framework is intended to address this gap.

    NAPWHA Stigma and Resilience Framework

    NAPWHA Stigma and Resilience Framework

    In 2019, NAPWHA lead the creation and development of the first ever national strategic framework to address HIV stigma and build the resilience capacity of People Living with HIV (‘the HIV resilience framework’). The HIV resilience framework is the outcome of a substantive consultation process across the community of people living with and affected by HIV.

    The aim of the framework is to support the developments of policies, legislation, programs, interventions and services, and practices within the HIV sector and at all levels of government that will deliver on the vision of an Australia in which all people living with HIV are personally resilient, benefiting equally from advances in testing, care, prevention, treatment and support.

      NAPWHA Stigma Audit

      In 2011, NAPWHA undertook a project to try and understand stigma in an Australian context. It conducted a survey and a number of interviews with people living with HIV to try and get a better sense of their concerns. The project aimed to: generate an evidence base for combating HIV-related stigma so as to improve health outcomes for PLHIV and support ongoing prevention efforts; build awareness about stigma and social research among PLHIV using a participatory model of research; translate the research findings into practical and useful recommendations for community-based HIV/AIDS organisations, policymakers, government advisory groups and relevant health services; and provide a rigorous measure of HIV stigma that will inform the implementation of the sixth National HIV Strategy and provide evidence for the development of future national strategies.

        External related links

        • Removing Barriers is everyone’s business – Access ASHM’s online learning for all health care professionals and those working in health-settings
        • Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project – Find out about the Centre for Social Research in Health UNSW study is to develop an indicator of stigma among priority groups identified by the five national strategies addressing blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections, including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, people living with viral hepatitis (B and C) and people who engage in sex work.
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