Myths and misunderstandings continue to fuel HIV stigma

Today on World AIDS Day, we know that incredible progress has been made around the world to respond to the AIDS epidemic. AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by 16% globally since 2010 and there has been a significant decline in new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in London, a clear sign that prevention efforts are working.

We’ve come a long way over the past 15 years, but the global fight is not just about saving lives – it is also about ending the stigma that continues to surround the virus, which can prevent people living with HIV from achieving their potential. It can also limit access to HIV testing, treatment and other services.

Through our partnership with the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, the charitable arm of M∙A∙C Cosmetics, we are funding organisations in the UK and globally who are doing ground-breaking and exciting work to tackle the stigma and discrimination experienced by people who are living with HIV.

Dr Greg Ussher, CEO of METRO, which is funded by Comic Relief and M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, shares his thoughts on why HIV-related stigma continues to be a huge challenge to overcome and what more needs to be done to end it…

"From our work with young people living with HIV, we know that HIV-related stigma is still very common. This can make young people very fearful of disclosing their status, which in turn can affect their life chances and also be dis-empowering and challenging when forming relationships.
"At the heart of the stigma surrounding HIV is ignorance - when people don't have accurate and up-to-date information about the virus, myths and misunderstandings continue to fuel stigma. Access to information is vital, both here in the UK and across the world.
"We need to continue to innovate and respond to changing ways of communicating to reach people and raise awareness around HIV, blast the myths and misunderstandings and provide clear and up-to-date information about the virus - especially around transmission. We need to make sure that information is accessible and relevant to young people living with HIV and support people considering disclosing their status by sharing positive, but also realistic experiences of others. 

METRO, based in London, has been awarded a grant by Comic Relief and M∙A∙C AIDS Fund to create a series of interactive films to help young people living with HIV disclose their status to family and friends, which can often be challenging.

Dr Greg Ussher adds: "The funding METRO has from Comic Relief and M∙A∙C AIDS Fund will help us to create an interactive drama around HIV disclosure, targeted at and developed by young people. The story-line will follow an individual as they proceed through friendships, dating and relationships, allowing the viewer to make choices along the way. The interactive drama series will tackle both awareness of HIV management and how to discuss and disclose in public and private settings. The video sequences will be supported with information and sign-posting to support services.” 

About M·A·C AIDS Fund

The M·A·C AIDS Fund, the philanthropic arm of M·A·C Cosmetics, has raised more than $470 million since its inception in 1994, exclusively through the sale of M·A·C VIVA GLAM lipstick and lipgloss. The Fund is the heart and soul of M·A·C Cosmetics, encompassing diversity while celebrating life and the outspoken attitude of the company. Partnering with bold, visionary, and brave organizations to confront the epidemic in communities where people are at highest risk around the world, the M·A·C AIDS Fund is ending AIDS, one lipstick at a time.