Sexual health magazine FS
have released their third annual 'HIV Stripped Bare' issue to coincide with World AIDS Day today (December 1).
As well as conducting research into attitudes towards HIV, the issue asks guys living with HIV to talk about their personal experiences with stigma. Sadly, the results show we are not tackling false information and discriminatory attitudes.
The survey of 750 HIV+ gay and bi men found that not only is stigma is still prevalent, but in certain ways it's also increasing.
A huge 97 per cent of respondents said they believe there is still stigma associated with being HIV-positive, with 84 per cent seeing or experiencing stigma on dating apps such as Grindr.
And despite 96 per cent of respondents being undetectable and therefore non-infectious, 76 per cent have been rejected because of their status.
Stigma is on the rise on social media too, with 22 per cent of people seeing stigmatising attitudes online compared with 14 per cent in 2014, while 83 per cent of positive men are reluctant to disclose their status because of stigma - up from 75 per cent two years ago.
There has been a slight decrease in the number of respondents believed that living with HIV makes relationships difficult, with 62 per cent agreeing with the statement, down from 64 per cent in 2014.
Despite encountering discrimination however, 60 per cent of respondents said their life has improved since being diagnosed, which is up from 56 per cent in 2014.
“Overall we can see that there is an increase of stigma towards gay and bisexual men living with HIV, especially on dating apps and on social media,” explains GMFA’s interim chief executive Ian Howley.
“This might be down to more men being open about their status and more education about HIV and viral load is needed to reflect this. What’s encouraging is the increase of those who say they their life has improved since finding out they are HIV-positive. Many cited that it forced them to look after their health and mental health.
“This shows that knowing your status is important.”
He added: "Stigmatising people with HIV does not just impact those living with HIV. It discourages men from testing and accessing treatment that can save their lives and make them less likely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
"It also stops people from openly talking about HIV and safer sex. And it causes so much ignorance and fear that some people avoid sex altogether. This is not healthy. This is why it’s so important that we do our best to stop HIV stigma."
Read the full issue of FS Magazine Issue #156 in full here
To order a free self-sampling HIV kit go to www.test.hiv, and to find your nearest sexual health clinic visit nhs.uk.
For more information about World AIDS Day visit worldaidsday.org.
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