AIDS Epidemic Update (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV AI

By Joint United Nations Programme on HIV AI

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This caused such panic and hostility that we were forced to move out of the area. The risk is to Michael and us, his family. Mob rule is dangerous. Ignorance about HIV means that people are frightened. And frightened people do not behave rationally. We could well be driven out of our home yet again. ‘Debbie’ speaking to the National AIDS Trust, UK, 2002 31 UNAIDS/WHO What fuels stigma and discrimination? Stigma devalues and discredits people, generating shame and insecurity. In the context of AIDS, it can fuel the urge to scapegoat, blame and punish certain people (or groups) in order to detract from the fact that everyone is at risk.

Stigma and discrimination undermine prevention by making people afraid to find out whether or not they are infected, and discourage people from adopting preventive measures—such as insisting on condom use during sex—that might be interpreted as an acknowledgement that they are HIV-infected. Stigma and discrimination also create a false sense of security that undermines prevention efforts. Often stigma and discrimination build on existing prejudices and patterns of social exclusion. By associating HIV/AIDS with groups of persons perceived as ‘outsiders’, people harbour the illusion that they themselves are not at risk of becoming infected.

Across the region, more in-depth studies are needed to examine sex work realities, especially street-based situations, and their potential contribution to HIV spread, first among sex workers and their clients, and subsequently to clients’ wives and children. Too little is known about the transmission of HIV between men who have sex with men in this region, and the shortfall of information is Effective prevention is needed speedily across the regions, designed to target both vulnerable groups and groups that could be drawn into the next phase of HIV spread, such as migrant workers, refugees and displaced persons, transport route workers, tourists, and young people generally.

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