29 Nov 2018
Empowering Communities through the HIV Stigma Index 2.0
Every year communities of people living with HIV come together to acknowledge the profound and devastating impact that the HIV epidemic has had on our lives and in our world. Millions of people have been lost over the last three decades and too many are still facing a daily life-or-death struggle for treatment and care, adequate food, housing, and income, often in the face of pervasive HIV related stigma, discrimination and violence.
Across communities and borders, stigma and discrimination continues to be the number one issue identified by people living with HIV as a concern. Stigma remains a major barrier to accessing treatment and care, to adhering to treatment and to living a high quality life. Discrimination is often a precursor to state sanctioned violence and places people living with HIV and key populations in danger in their day-to-day lives by destroying families and communities, causing economic hardship and violating basic human rights.
As we wind down 2018 and usher in a new year, we must recommit ourselves to fighting stigma and discrimination, in tandem with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, gender based violence and other prejudices that fuel the worldwide HIV epidemic. In doing so, GNP+ is redoubling our efforts to measure trends in HIV related stigma and discrimination through our ground-breaking People Living with HIV Stigma Index project
The People Living with HIV Stigma Index is a research process – a survey made for and by people living with HIV – to gather important evidence on the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV. Ten years following its launch in 2008, it has now been updated and strengthened by the Stigma Index 2.0 project, which reﬂects shifts in the HIV epidemic and the global response. Some of the main changes in the 2.0 version include new questions focused on speciﬁc populations to better understand how different groups of people living with HIV and key populations are affected by stigma and discrimination. It also includes an expanded healthcare section to look at the impact of stigma on health and access to health across the whole continuum of care, not just HIV services, and a new questionnaire that is streamlined and easier to use, using digital data collection. Currently, over 15 countries are implementing the Stigma Index 2.0 project, with Latvia and Lithuania taking the lead on finalizing their reports for release in early 2019.
“We feel that stigma is widespread and we see regular manifestations of it, but nobody really knows to what extent and in what way it affects people living with HIV. This is why measuring stigma is important. It is obvious that stigma affects the motivation of people living with HIV to seek treatment – anyone would be wary of going to a clinic if the expectation is that you will be received with blaming comments rather than respect.” – Jurgita Poskeviciute, Lithuanian team of the Stigma Index
During this coming year, we hope that the HIV community will continue to shine a light on the injustices and exclusion in our societies, while opening space for continued solidarity and resistance by all of our beloved communities that have carried the weight of this epidemic, including gay men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs, women and girls, and adolescents and children. We invite you to tell your stories and share in this important Stigma Index work as we gather, research, document and drive advocacy on addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination in our diverse communities.
Check out our stigma index videos on facebook by clicking here.