Support tool for women facing HIV stigma and discrimination
To mark International Women’s Day, Women for Positive Action has launched a practical and educational tool to empower women living with HIV to deal with the challenges of stigma and discrimination.
Women for Positive Action is a coalition of healthcare professionals, community representatives and women living with HIV from across Europe, Canada and Latin America. This stigma and discrimination resource has been designed for use in both the community and clinical settings and is available now for download.
Research shows that women are more likely to be affected by HIV-related stigma and discrimination compared with men, which may lead to depression, poor medication adherence and risky behaviour.
“The isolation caused by stigma and discrimination relating to HIV can have significant implications for a woman’s physical and emotional health,” explains Dr Adriana Ammassari, Clinical Researcher in Infectious Diseases at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, Italy.
“The theme of International Women’s Day 2012 is ‘Connecting Girls, and Inspiring Futures’ - by developing this tool we hope that we can help women to access the right support and care to achieve better outcomes for themselves and their families.”
In addition to providing examples of the ways in which women living with HIV can be supported to combat stigma and discrimination this tool also discusses disclosure of HIV status and suggests ways to support women who wish to take this step.
“Disclosure of HIV status can have positive benefits for an individual, their family and the community by reducing depression and anxiety and encouraging access to HIV support and care services. However, disclosure is not a decision which should be taken lightly. It is a process which should only be undertaken when the woman feels fully supported and when it becomes appropriate at the various stages of life,” Annette Piecha member of the German Therapy Activists Network DCAB HIV and the European AIDS Treatment Group explains.
Women for Positive Action is committed to exploring and addressing the issues faced by women living with HIV and those involved in their care:
It is estimated that around 3,000 women and girls contract HIV each day, and the latest global estimate of women living with HIV in 2009 was approximately 17 million.
Women make up about 50% of HIV cases and a higher proportion of new diagnoses compared with men. This means that the share of HIV infection among women is increasing in several countries. Young women in sub-Saharan Africa, aged 15–24, are eight times more likely than men to be diagnosed with HIV.
The most common mode of infection is by heterosexual transmission and most women living with HIV are of childbearing age. Furthermore, women with HIV are more likely to present at a later stage of HIV infection than men.