Results from a recent UK wide survey of 4,000 adults demonstrated that misunderstanding and stigma still continue to exist despite more than 30 years of advances in medicine.
- 61% of those surveyed said that if they found out a potential partner was HIV positive that they “would” or “might” end the relationship .
- The main reason (81%) being fear of contracting HIV themselves.
- 17% said they’d be embarassed if someone found out their partner had HIV.
- 34% said that they would not play contact sport if they knew that one of their oponents had HIV, with the most common reason being a fear of contracting HIV themselves. This point clearly speaks to a lack of understanding about how HIV is, and isn’t, transmitted.
The ‘Tackle HIV’ campaign aims to harness the strength and following of rugby and other team sports to bring better awareness around HIV to the general public who may not have been reached by traditional messaging and campaigns.
Rugby star Gareth Thomas who is heading up the campaign said:
“Since finding out I have HIV I have learnt so much about the virus and about how it affects people living with it. As our survey clearly demonstrates, HIV is still misunderstood and because of that stigma still exists. I have heard first hand stories of how deeply this stigma and self-stigma affect people living with HIV and I am determined to change this. That’s why I have started the Tackle HIV campaign with ViiV Healthcare.
I am living with HIV and I am living a full and normal life. I am taking HIV treatment which is working. As such I cannot pass HIV onto my partner. Science and medicine are so advanced but public awareness and attitude lag behind. I am choosing to Tackle HIV, for myself and everyone living with HIV.”
Speaking in support of Gareth and the Tackle HIV campaign, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Founder and Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, commented:
“People living with HIV are not dangerous, they are not a threat to you, your friends, family or to society. We create barriers with our own ignorance. Science is winning the battle against the virus, but public misunderstanding and stigma are a long way behind. We support Gareth and the Tackle HIV campaign to inspire us to learn and help make the changes we need to make in our society to end HIV/AIDS.”
Deborah Waterhouse, Chief Executive Officer, ViiV Healthcare commented:
“We are hugely proud of our role in supporting this campaign. While a record number of people living with HIV are now on treatment and are living longer, healthier lives – stigma persists with huge impact on people living with and at risk of HIV. ViiV Healthcare is committed to being here until HIV isn’t and ending stigma is key to that goal. Tackle HIV is an important new partnership that illustrates this commitment.”
If the world is to achieve the ambitious UNAIDS targer of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 it’s clear that we will need new and innovative ways to educate the general public. Without first addressing stigma we will never acheive those goals.
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