Stigma: A Multiplier of HIV Risk and Prevalence
March 29, 2017
Stigma can happen anywhere and to anyone. Yet, for people living with HIV, stigma is often a daily reality, “from outright denial of care to less obvious actions like making certain patients wait longer for care.”1 The same is true for sex workers and other key populations at higher risk of acquiring HIV. While stigma can take place in all facets of life, stigma within the health system is particularly damaging. It drives people to delay accessing healthcare or to avoid it altogether. When the care a person delays is testing or treatment for HIV, it can have serious personal and public health consequences.
A recent article, published in AIDS Care, examines how stigma faced by sex workers affects their use of HIV- and non-HIV related healthcare services and undermines their human right to health. The authors argue that stigma—particularly the intersection of key population- and HIV-related stigma—acts as a roadblock at each step in the HIV treatment cascade, threatening individuals’ health and our collective ability to control the HIV epidemic. Promising HIV-stigma reduction interventions, such as those discussed in our recent webinar, could be one way to combat stigma, lower individuals’ HIV risk, and reduce HIV prevalence.
The study detailed in the article was conducted by Health Policy Plus’ predecessor project, the Health Policy Project, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Additional support for analysis was provided by RTI, International.
1Source: Nyblade, L., A. Reddy, D. Mbote, J. Kraemer, M. Stockton, et al. 2017. “The Relationship Between Health Worker Stigma and Uptake of HIV Counseling and Testing and Utilization of non-HIV Health Services: The Experience of Male and Female Sex Workers in Kenya.” AIDS Care, DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2017.1307922.