Presented last Friday (6), the in-depth analysis of the Stigma Index in relation to People Living with HIV and AIDS in the city of São Paulo (SP) brought alarming data regarding the way that this population feels and is treated health systems, according to UNAIDS research. The percentages of people living with HIV who confirm having been diagnosed with mental health problems (58.4%) and difficulty in telling people about their diagnosis (80.7%) are high.
The form of discrimination most experienced by the research participants in São Paulo was to hear from other people who are not members of the family making discriminatory comments or gossiping because they are HIV positive (43.2%).
Even among family members, this form of discrimination was widely reported (41.6%), not being restricted to gossip or discriminatory comments, as verbal harassment (27.4%), physical assaults (7.7%) were also reported and even loss of source of income or employment due to being HIV positive (16.6%).
Stigma in relation to HIV and AIDS can lead people living with the virus to reduce social contact. The Stigma Index for People Living with HIV and AIDS asked the people interviewed if they had taken any isolation in the past 12 months because they were HIV positive. 31% said they had isolated themselves from family and friends; 29% said they did not look for sex.
Another data that deserves special attention is the percentage of people interviewed who reported the diagnosis of other health problems. 58.4% reported mental health problems, in addition to sexually transmitted infections (21.6%), Hepatitis (6.2%) and Tuberculosis (5.9%).
“We believe that these data can further clarify the path to fight for the rights of people living with HIV against all types of discrimination and stigma. May people living with HIV and AIDS have their voices heard”, said Claudia Velasquez, director and representative of UNAIDS.