People living with HIV continue to face stigma, discrimination

Sun. December 2, 2012 7:58 AM by

As the Obama administration promotes its goal of an AIDS-free generation, people living with HIV continue to face stigma and discrimination, especially in the developing world.

(Related: Hillary Clinton unveils AIDS-free generation blueprint)

In an op-ed marking World AIDS Day, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin and AIDS United President and CEO Michael Kaplan wrote that social stigma "limits our ability to tackle HIV/AIDS at all levels."

"This particularly holds true for LGBT Americans," they wrote. "Too often, the LGBT community has reinforced AIDS-related stigma with labels such as 'clean' to refer to those uninfected. In addition, anti-LGBT bias breeds fear, causing individuals to hide their sexual identity. These combined forces drive the rising rates of HIV, particularly among young gay men, to alarming rates."

Stigma in other parts of the world often leads to outright discrimination.

Al Jazeera's Inside Story recently reported that hospitals in China have been accused of refusing to admit people who test positive for the virus and that many Nigerians believe that being HIV-positive is a death sentence.

"Stigma and discrimination remains one of the challenges that we do face," Lynette Mabote of the Rights Alliance for Southern Africa said. "One of the leading causes of this is because we've got too many laws that criminalize people. So this is the major hindrance that is actually reversing the gains that we've made so far. We've got punitive laws in countries that criminalize same-sex relations, that criminalize sex workers, as well as HIV exposure and transmission. So, this actually keeps people away from accessing essential services."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine