ICW Compiling Information On HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma In Developing Countries

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HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma In Developing Countries

UNAIDS, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, World YWCA and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDSare compiling data on HIV/AIDS-related stigma and the accessibility ofhealth services in some developing countries in an effort to compareofficial information with the perceptions of HIV-positive people, IRIN/PlusNewsreports. The groups in October 2006 launched a pilot program in Kenya,India, Lesotho, and Trinidad and Tobago that aims to collectexperiences of how people living with HIV/AIDS deal with stigma anddiscrimination. About 20 people in each country responded to aquestionnaire, which included questions on personal experiences relatedto stigma, HIV testing, diagnostics, treatment and parenthood.


Accordingto the preliminary results, 16% of participants reported they had beenostracized by their peers at some point; 35% said they felt sexuallyrejected; 30% reported that their families experienced discrimination;and 17% said they had received substandard medical care because oftheir HIV-positive status. The preliminary results were presentedearlier this month at the first International Women's Summit on Women's Leadership and HIV and AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya.

The next phase in the project will be to conduct research at a national level in pilot countries, IRIN/PlusNewsreports. International standards require an average sample size of2,000 respondents for a trial's findings to be considered relevant. Thefirst phase of the pilot program involved 100 respondents.

The datafrom the program will be made available to organizations working withHIV-positive people, and UNAIDS will include the data in its annualreport. In addition, the data could be an important advocacy tool,according to IRIN/PlusNews. "If we know how prejudiceworks, we can help eliminate it," Kate Thomson, a partnership counselorat UNAIDS, said, adding, "And if we manage to prove it scientifically,people will listen to us." The "key to the index is recognizing thatpeople living with HIV are agents for change," Thomson said (IRIN/PlusNews, 7/11).

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