In 2001/2002, the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+) conducted the first regional documentation of AIDS-related discrimination in Asia. The project was an action-based, peer-led study that aimed to develop an understanding of the nature, pattern and extent of AIDS-related discrimination in several Asian countries. The project was designed and implemented by people living with HIV (positive people) and received ethical approval and funding from UNAIDS.
Findings indicate that AIDS-related discrimination is prevalent in every sector of society. Overall, 80% of respondents reported experiencing some form of discrimination, including 54% within the health sector, 31% in the community, 18% within the family and 18% in the workplace.
In all countries, the majority of people did not receive pre-test counselling before being tested for HIV and one in eight respondents said they were coerced into testing, particularly people who tested during pregnancy or because of employment. Many respondents were refused treatment after being diagnosed with HIV and many, including a high percentage of women who tested during pregnancy, experienced delayed provision of treatment or health services. Breaches of confidentiality by health workers were common.
Women are significantly more likely than men to experience discrimination within the family and the community because of their HIV status, including ridicule, harassment and physical assault and being forced to change their place of residence.
Interviewers described the process of training and data collection as empowering; it equipped them to respond to future human rights violations, provided them with skills and self-confidence in carrying out research and helped to strengthen their networks. This model of peer-based research may be easily adapted for other countries.