Associated Press Examines HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma in Latin America, Caribbean, Eastern Europe
The Associated Press on Thursday examined how stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean has lessened in the 25 years since the disease was first diagnosed. Although discrimination still exists, a "new spirit of openness is emerging, spurred by education and by a growing awareness that AIDS touches every sector of society," according to the Associated Press. Haiti's HIV prevalence has declined from 9% in 1993 to about 4% today, which health workers say is largely because of increased awareness and condom promotion efforts. "Now people are willing to talk about AIDS. It's a radical change," Eddy Genece, director of POZ, a Haitian organization that lobbies church leaders to talk about the disease, said. He added, "The stigma is still there, but it's less strong." In Brazil, widespread discussion about HIV and the Catholic Church's "low-key approach to its opposition to condom use" have helped the country's HIV/AIDS campaign, according to the Associated Press. However, discrimination still is apparent in some countries, including Ecuador and Haiti, the Associated Press reports (Jacobs, Associated Press, 6/1).
Stigma Surrounding HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe
The Associated Press on Thursday also examined the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe. The disease is still "controversial" in the region, and many people living with HIV also have to live with discrimination and poverty, according to the Associated Press. For example, Romania requires all people intending to marry or applying for jobs to undergo an HIV test. HIV/AIDS advocates say the policy fuels discrimination, and health experts have called for more practical policies to control the spread of the disease. In addition, parents in Romania are not required to tell their HIV-positive children of their HIV status until they are 18, though some say the age should be reduced to 14. Adrian Streinu-Cercel, Romania's AIDS program coordinator, said roughly 20% of HIV-positive children in the country are unaware of their status because their parents are afraid to tell them. In addition, Ukraine's HIV/AIDS policy often is ignored and many patients are turned away when they seek medical help, the Associated Press reports. Therefore, HIV-positive people are forced into isolation in hospitals or in their homes (Alexe, Associated Press, 6/1).