Today is World AIDS Day 2015, yet the names people are called who carry the HIV virus shows that there is still stigma attached to the condition. World AIDS Day was designed to raise awareness of both HIV and AIDS. In research carried out by HIV and sexual health charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, those living with the condition revealed the most common words they hear to describe their status. The trust polled 596 people living with HIV. The following table reveals how many of those 596 participants have been called the following words.
Words used to describe HIV:
AIDS – 21%
Diseased – 16%
Unclean – 12%
Riddled – 9%
In further studies carried out by the Terrence Higgins Trust, it emerged that 90 percent of people living with HIV do not think the public knows the difference between HIV and AIDS. Shaun Griffin, executive director external affairs of the trust, said: “Many people, as reflected in the poll cannot differentiate between HIV and AIDS. That is quite alarming considering the advances made in HIV treatment over the past 30 years. “These advances mean simply that HIV is a long-term health condition “it needs to be managed just as high blood pressure or diabetes does.
“Terrence Higgins Trust will continue to challenge HIV stigma through positive action, support, and education. As well as confronting it ourselves, we will empower HIV-positive people to challenge stigma themselves when they experience it.” Based on the results, it appears that there is a level of confusion over the differences between HIV and AIDS.
Here are 5 key things you need to know about HIV and AIDS:
1. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a condition brought about by the HIV virus
2. Someone can have HIV, but not AIDS. If you have AIDS, then it means you have HIV.
3. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV.
4. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, and not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage.
5. Many people live for many years with HIV without ever developing AIDS, with medical care, HIV can be controlled.
The trust also polled 106 women living with HIV to gauge the level of the stigma they experience from others, due to their condition. When they were asked what words they had heard people used when speaking about HIV, which they found particularly hurtful, the top four results were “disgusting”, “promiscuous”, “dirty” and “deserved”.