UNAIDS, IPPF, World YWCA, ICW Compiling Information on HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma in Some Developing CountriesUNAIDS, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, World YWCA and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS are compiling data on HIV/AIDS-related stigma and the accessibility of health services in some developing countries in an effort to compare official information with the perceptions of HIV-positive people, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The groups in October 2006 launched a pilot program in Kenya, India, Lesotho, and Trinidad and Tobago that aims to collect experiences of how people living with HIV/AIDS deal with stigma and discrimination. About 20 people in each country responded to a questionnaire, which included questions on personal experiences related to stigma, HIV testing, diagnostics, treatment and parenthood.
According to the preliminary results, 16% of participants reported they had been ostracized by their peers at some point; 35% said they felt sexually rejected; 30% reported that their families experienced discrimination; and 17% said they had received substandard medical care because of their HIV-positive status. The preliminary results were presented earlier this month at the first International Women's Summit on Women's Leadership and HIV and AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya.
The next phase in the project will be to conduct research at a national level in pilot countries, IRIN/PlusNews reports. International standards require an average sample size of 2,000 respondents for a trial's findings to be considered relevant. The first phase of the pilot program involved 100 respondents. The data from the program will be made available to organizations working with HIV-positive people, and UNAIDS will include the data in its annual report. In addition, the data could be an important advocacy tool, according to IRIN/PlusNews. "If we know how prejudice works, we can help eliminate it," Kate Thomson, a partnership counselor at UNAIDS, said, adding, "And if we manage to prove it scientifically, people will listen to us." The "key to the index is recognizing that people living with HIV are agents for change," Thomson said (IRIN/PlusNews, 7/11).
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