UNAIDS LAC – stigma is still a big problem to eradicate HIV

HIV-AIDS-Negative-Stigma-of-SocietyThe lack of accurate information on HIV can be considered one of the major factors that give rise to stigma and discrimination. Many efforts have been made to enforce the rights of those with HIV. However, regions such as Latin America are still reporting high rates of discrimination associated with HIV.

According to the Director for Latin America of the UNAIDS, Dr. César Núñez “Latin America has reported the highest rate in the world in treatment for people with HIV”. However, HIV-related stigma, discrimination and violence make it difficult for the total eradication of this epidemic.

According to some specialists, the problem lies in making people attend health centers to be diagnosed and start treatment if necessary. Many are afraid to attend these centers since they may be identified. This situation puts their lives at risk.

“There is stigma associated with HIV testing, many people are ashamed to get tested, since they are going to be asked what kind of sex they had, and with whom.” In small communities, people doubt that the information will be confidentially kept”, explained Massiah, from Trinidad and Tobago. “There are some hospitals, in which workers have hostile attitudes toward gay men. A vulnerable group”. Complained the activist.

Gender-based violence is a fact that can be demonstrated daily in news from Mexico to Argentina, showing cases of violent deaths, in which is notorious the relationship they have with cases of discrimination towards homosexuals or the trans community. This kind of violence keeps vulnerable groups away from HIV testing, and treatment.

In 2013, Latin America showed a figure of 1.6 million people with HIV, around 94.000 new infections each year. According to UNAIDS, that same year, around 47.000 people died from AIDS-related causes.

According to Núñez, representative of UNAIDS, the first thing to do is to end AIDS-related mortality through access to universal treatment, and the second step is to reduce the rate of transmission through prevention strategies.