World AIDS Day 2018 - #ZeroHIV

On World AIDS Day, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust has revealed the extent to which people living with HIV are impacted by HIV discrimination.

According to the charity, half (50%) of people living with HIV have experienced discrimination because of their HIV status.

This comes despite the incredible medical progress that’s been made over the last 30 years, which now means that people with the virus can live as long and healthily as anybody else.

Effective treatment shrinks the amount of virus in the body to undetectable levels, which protects the immune system from damage and means HIV can’t be passed on to anyone else. 

Despite this progress, and the fact that people diagnosed with HIV today can thrive, misinformation around HIV still causes stigma, which impacts many people living with HIV.

The polling, which looked at people living with HIV’s experience and fear of HIV discrimination, found:

  • Over half (54%) had experienced HIV discrimination in dating and relationships.
  • One third (34%) had experienced HIV discrimination while accessing health care services.
  • Almost one third (30%) had experienced HIV discrimination at work.
  • More than one quarter (27%) had experienced HIV discrimination from friends.
  • Almost one fifth (18%) had experienced HIV discrimination from family members.
  • One fifth (21%) had experienced HIV discrimination in their local community.

When asked about fear of HIV discrimination, people living with HIV said that it had: 

  • made them feel anxious (61%)
  • had an impact on their mental health (60%)
  • had an impact on their self-worth (59%)
  • made them feel unable to talk openly at work about living with HIV (59%)
  • made them feel unable to talk openly with friends about living with HIV (53%)
  • made them feel unable to talk openly with family about living with HIV (52%)
  • made them feel unable to talk openly in dating about living with HIV (51%)
  • made them feel alone (50%)
Quote text

We must not just focus our efforts on reaching zero transmissions, but also zero stigma.

Author thumbnail
Ian Green

The polling of 1,350 people living with HIV was undertaken as part of the charity’s latest campaign, Zero HIV, that seeks to bring both HIV transmissions and HIV stigma down to zero in the UK.

In the same week leading up to World AIDS Day, Public Health England has just revealed that the UK has achieved its target of 90:90:90, a whole year ahead of when it aimed to do so (2020).

This means that 92% of people living with HIV in the UK are diagnosed; 98% of those people are on treatment; and 97% of those have an undetectable viral load, which means they can’t pass on HIV.

We are now getting increasingly close to ending all new cases of HIV in the UK and hope to do so well ahead of the global target of 2030.

Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'Earlier this week we received the wonderful news that we are even closer to ending HIV here in the UK.

'To have achieved the 90:90:90 targets one-year ahead of the target truly demonstrates the UK’s position as a leader in the HIV sector, which is something we very much hope to continue.

'We now have the tools to end HIV transmission here in the UK – with a combination of regular testing, PrEP, condoms and treatment as prevention – and it’s vital we continue to ensure people are aware of those tools, and know how and are able to access them.

'However, as ending HIV transmissions in the UK becomes a reality, we must support those living with the virus to thrive, and end the stigma they face. We must not just focus our efforts on reaching zero transmissions, but also zero stigma.

'The results from our polling are extremely saddening, although perhaps not shocking, as work from the Stigma Index earlier this year demonstrated a similar sentiment.

'This World AIDS Day, as we mark 30 years since the first, we will remember the many loved ones we’ve lost.

'We will celebrate the progress we’ve made in their memory, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder and continue to work together with one another to hit zero HIV transmissions and zero HIV stigma for good.'