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HIV stigma is linked to lack of HIV-related knowledge.

HIV-related stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV are associated with lack of knowledge of antiretroviral medications and never having discussed HIV. (1) According to a 2005-2006 study of 14,203 people aged 18-32 in five sites in four countries (Soweto, South Africa; Vulindlela, South Africa; Kisarawe, Tanzania; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Mutoko, Zimbabwe), one-third reported having ever been tested for HIV (ranging from 9% in Zimbabwe to 49% in Soweto), about half (53%) had heard of antiretroviral medications (ranging from 28% in Zimbabwe to 76% in Soweto) and two-thirds (69%) had ever discussed HIV/AIDS (ranging from 51% in Tanzania to 89% in Soweto). In all five sites, respondents who had never talked about HIV/AIDS were more likely than others to believe that people living with HIV should be ashamed and isolated (odds ratios, 1.5-2.3); having no knowledge of antiretroviral medications was positively associated with such negative attitudes in all sites except Soweto (1.5-3.3), and never having been tested for HIV was positively associated with negative attitudes in Thailand (1.7). Lack of knowledge of antiretroviral medications was positively associated with perceived discrimination against people living with HIV in Thailand (4.0) and negatively associated with perceived discrimination in South Africa and Zimbabwe (0.7-0.8). Never having talked about HIV was positively associated with discrimination in Tanzania (1.6) and negatively associated with discrimination in Soweto (0.7). Overall, the sites with the lowest HIV prevalence (Tanzania and Thailand) had the most negative attitudes toward people living with HIV, whereas the sites with the lowest antiretroviral coverage (Tanzania and Zimbabwe) had the greatest perceived discrimination against HIV-positive individuals. The authors suggest that "universal access to treatment for HIV and widespread educational and prevention efforts ... may reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination."

(1.) Genberg BL et al., A comparison of HIV/AIDS-related stigma in four countries: negative attitudes and perceived acts of discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS, Social Science & Medicine, 2009, 68(2009):2279-2287.

Update is compiled and written by Jared Rosenberg, senior editor of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

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Title Annotation:UPDATE
Author:Rosenberg, Jared
Publication:International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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