The stigma behind STI Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) means that around 1.9 million adults are still newly infection every year.
Liberal Democrat Equalities Research assistant and HIV activist Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, 37, from London feels that: “the fear of being diagnosed and the stigma associated with being open and honest about your HIV status means that 17% of the total that are estimated to have HIV in the UK are not even aware because they choose not to be tested”.
New guidance from the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) says that 11 million people living in high risk areas in England may soon be offered a routine HIV test in the fight against AIDS.
Adrian says that he would prefer to remove the word ‘high risk’ from this new campaign: “everyone should be routinely offered a HIV test wherever they live and not based on stigmatising areas”.
Doctors will use their clinical judgement to offer patients routine testing even if they are seeking medical help for another reason.
The Public Health England (PHE) has calculated high risk areas as having two to five diagnosed with infection per 1,000 people aged 15-59.
It is easier and cheaper than ever to prevent contracting the disease and test for it. However, the stigma behind it has left the statistics for disease the same since 2010.
Josh Robbins, 33, from Nashville, TN (USA) is a HIV Positive Activist who uses his website http://imstilljosh.com to educate people on HIV:
“HIV stigma is clearly the result of the lack of education about the virus and what it means to live with HIV and AIDS successfully.”
“This lack of education is a huge learning curve when someone is newly diagnosed—but that eventually levels out as people come to terms with their diagnosis.”
Dom Cox, 22, from Shrewsbury was a student until graduating last year when one of his friends contracted the disease: “one of my friends was diagnosed with HIV, it took him months to tell us because he was scared of our reaction”
“Now I understand HIV more I don’t feel awkward talking about it, but he still does as not everyone is educated enough to understand fully.”
This is a common consensus, stigma behind the disease will be helped by this new approach if taken on by medical professionals.
Unwillingness to take a test has been reported in the past by sufferers as they felt the stigma stopped them taking action from fear of being isolated or discriminated against.
Lib-Dem Adrian says that because of the stigma: “extreme responses (from) diagnosis: suicide, divorce, intense depression, withdrawing from social activities, and a poor self-image. ‘HIV is a virus. Stigma is the epidemic’.”