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    First Published: Before August 2002
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One in five people living with HIV in this country have experienced discrimination in the last year say campaigning group the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Launching a groundbreaking new report just before World Aids Day THT Chief Executive Nick Partridge (left) says “Many people with HIV feel unable to live full and active lives, even if they are well, because of the constant fear of prejudice and discrimination – in the workplace, in their social lives, even at home. We hear moving examples of this from people every day. But this doesn’t have to happen. The Government can do much to alleviate this problem through simple legislative changes, and we can all help by challenging the unnecessary and damaging attitudes that people with HIV still face.”
The report Prejudice, Discrimination and HIV highlights examples of discrimination experienced by those infected with HIV:

- A woman living in the Home Counties found her GP on her doorstep when she arrived home one day. The GP, who had received information that the woman was HIV positive, accused her loudly within earshot of the neighbours of putting the GP in danger by not disclosing her status.

- Mary, who shared a house with three women friends, came home one day to find every cup and plate in the house broken and put in the bin. One of the women had found out that Mary had HIV and this had been her reaction.

- John, a single man, obtained a mortgage from a major building society and applied for illness cover with a well known insurer. Asked, on the form, if he was gay, he answered yes and was asked to take a full medical and HIV test. Despite the test being negative, and John being in a long term monogamous relationship (which was never asked about) he was told that his monthly premium would be more than doubled.

The government accepts that more needs to be done according to Health Minister Lord Hunt: “This report sets out very cIearly both the obvious and the hidden ways in which prejudice and discrimination affect people with HIV. We fully support the Terrence Higgins Trust in their call for this issue to be dealt with, and have included steps to address it in the National Strategy for HIV and Sexual Health.” However there is still reluctance to face up to the issues raised by AIDS. It was only a few weeks ago that the government's own Schools Health Education Unit reported an alarming level of ignorance about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections amongst 10 to 15 year olds. Lisa Power of the THT said that "Teachers must be given the support they need to tackle this dreadful information gap, and to deliver co-ordinated and appropriate sex education in our schools. Regrettably, legislation such as Section 28 and a general lack of willingness to discuss sex with young people only makes this situation worse."

Nick Partridge believes that Worlds AIDS Day is an opportunity to focus attention on these issues. "We can all do our bit to help - wear a red ribbon on December 1st, encouraging others to find out the truth about HIV, as well as taking simple steps to make sure we're not prejudiced about HIV. The numbers of people living with HIV both in the UK and worldwide are now at their highest ever levels, so please join with us and show your support this World AIDS Day."

Terrence Higgins Trust
World Aids Day
GMFA
UK Coalition
OutUK Aids Archive

 

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