HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is asking faith groups across the UK to lead the way in the effort to banish HIV stigma among African communities this World AIDS Day (1st December). To mark the day, the charity is launching its Stand Up, Stand Out campaign and wants faith groups to pledge their support for people with HIV by championing the anti-stigma message.
Despite huge progress in care and treatment of HIV, many people with the condition still report being stigmatised by others who have treated them badly, discriminated against them, bullied, or even threatened them with violence, because of their condition.
Africans are one of the groups most at risk of HIV, accounting for the largest proportion of heterosexual diagnoses in the UK. In 2009, a national study¹ reported that over a third of people with HIV had experienced discrimination in the previous year. Fear of discrimination can have a profound effect, preventing people from being open about their condition, and inhibiting the discussion needed to challenge the stigma that still exists around HIV.
Terrence Higgins Trust is asking faith groups to show their support for the Stand Up, Stand Out campaign by pledging to:
Embrace people living with HIV as members of the congregation equal to any other
Provide social and spiritual support to people living with HIV
Recognise the importance of anti-retroviral medication for people living with HIV that as well as prayer and support
Encourage acceptance of people living with HIV within the congregation if they choose speak openly about their condition to others and recognise their right to confidentiality if they choose not to
Keep a list of the local HIV services and refer people to these services if they need them
Marcy Madzikanda, Health Improvement Specialist for African Communities at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “More than thirty years on from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV remains surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition – this urgently needs to change. For many African people living in the UK, the church is the centre of the community. That’s why it’s so important that faith groups get behind our Stand Up, Stand Out campaign, and lead the way in the effort to banish stigma for good.”
“There are lots of ways faith leaders can show their support this World AIDS Day – from talking to their congregation about stigma, to remembering those who have lost their lives to the virus, to holding a charity collection to support people living with HIV.”
For further information about getting involved in Terrence Higgins Trust’s Stand Up, Stand Out campaign or for fundraising ideas, please visit www.tht.org.uk/worldaidsday.
Spokespeople are available. For media information, please contact Jenny Cameron at Terrence Higgins Trust on 020 7812 1625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editor
1. Sigma Research (2007 – 2008) What do you need? Findings from a national survey of people with diagnosed HIV.
2. Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity with centres across England, Scotland and Wales. We’re here to provide information and advice about HIV and sexual health and offer a range of services including sexual health checks, counselling and support groups. We campaign for a world where people with HIV live healthy lives, free from prejudice and discrimination, and we promote good sexual health as a right and reality for all.
Visit www.myhiv.org.uk, our new site for everyone living with HIV in the UK, for accredited information, self management tools, interactive web services and community forums. Terrence Higgins Trust relies on donations to deliver a wide range of services. To make a donation, or to find out about everything that we do visit www.tht.org.uk
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