In a world where many people have only incomplete or outdated knowledge about HIV/AIDS, stigma is the inevitable result. Because of its relevance in fighting the HIV epidemic, this topic takes a big part in our upcoming report. Stigma and discrimination affect exposure to the risk of unintended pregnancy or STIs, care-seeking behaviour, and access and use of preventive sexual- and reproductive-services, care and treatment.

"We’ve come very far when it comes to medical interventions available. But there’s still a gap between these medical interventions and young people actually taking them. And what causes that gap in my experience is still the stigma that is put to young people even just informing themselves and the unwillingness of service providers to provide youth friendly services when it comes to sexual health. And that is where the fear and stigma is really really high." - Bongiwe Ndlovu, South Africa, Project Lead Protection

The fear of being stigmatised and discriminated affects both sexually active people as well as people living with HIV. It causes the assumption that being seropositive is equivalent to dying biologically and socially and the need to keep the diagnosis hidden for fear of social rejection. Stigma has also manifested in the provision of health care, it can lead to outright denial of care, provision of sub-standard care, physical and verbal abuse and longer waits, among others. As a result, stigma becomes a barrier for people in need of health care. We need to recognise the drivers of stigma and discrimination processes to actively prevent them to assure high quality health care. 

Over 5.9 % of ourparticipants reported experiencing stigmatization or discrimination when seeking sexual health care services.

We know how to prevent HIV infections.
Yet the world registered 1.5 million new infections in 2020.

We know how to treat HIV/AIDS.
Yet more than 10 million people living with HIV are not accessing treatment.

Our new report "Epidemic of the mind" examines the complex social and cultural factors driving the HIV epidemic today - and how to address them:

  • Availability
  • Knowledge & Awareness
  • Stigma & Discrimination
  • Gender Inequality
  • Religion & Spirituality

The tools and knowledge to prevent new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are already available. Now, it is time to fight the epidemic of the mind.

Learn more and pre-order the report on updateHIV.com