Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
International Red Cross, Red Crescent Day Focuses on Ending HIV/AIDS Stigma
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, which was yesterday, focused on ending the stigma and misinformation surrounding HIV/AIDS that leads to further spread of the disease, Agence France-Press reports. Red Cross and Red Crescent officials criticized religious groups for harming prevention efforts by condemning condom use and shunning HIV-positive individuals (Agence France Presse, 5/7). "People place themselves at high risk from infection or refuse to access treatment rather than face the consequence of social stigma, such as losing their homes, businesses and even their families," International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies President Juan Manuel Suarez del Toro said (Xinhua News Agency, 5/8). Bernard Gardiner of the IFRC's HIV/AIDS program said that religious organizations need to be "in the forefront" of battling the disease, according to Agence-France Presse. "What we need are clear messages for people and one is that condoms work," Gardiner said, adding, "This message should not be muddied." Gardiner said that there is silence about the disease in Swaziland -- where 40% of the adult population is estimated to be HIV-positive -- because of social stigma, according to Agence-France Presse. "Stigma is learnt and stigma kills," Gardiner said. The United Nations estimates that there are approximately 42 million HIV-positive people in the world and 3.1 million died from AIDS-related causes last year (Agence-France Presse, 5/7).
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