Scotland Fighting Stigma With UK’s First Anti-HIV Campaign In Four Decades
TV viewers across Scotland are now being targeted with the UK’s first major public health campaign against HIV/AIDS in 40 years – a work of the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).
The advertisement is intended to fight the stigma that still surrounds the virus despite significant improvements in diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods.
Announcing the launch of its campaign, THT explained in Scotland, attitudes to people testing positive for HIV have lagged far behind medical advancements.
THT Ad Is Focused Not On Risk But On Stigma
The original British government-backed campaign to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS offered two of the most memorable TV clips of the 1980s.
Made at a time when there were no effective treatments for the disease, one advert featured a giant black tombstone and another an iceberg inscribed with the words AIDS.
While the ads urged the general population to educate itself about HIV, using the slogan “Don’t Die of Ignorance”, the latest THT ad is focused not on risk but on stigma.
Persistent Stigma Against HIV-Positive People
“Just 35% of people in Scotland would be happy to kiss someone living with HIV, despite it being known since the 1980s that HIV can’t be passed on through saliva,” THT noted.
The organisation quoted polling funded by the Scottish Government, highlighting almost 46% of people in Scotland would be ashamed to tell other people they were HIV positive.
European health agencies have repeatedly warned persistent stigma against HIV-positive people means many are going untested for years.
Making Access To HIV Services Equitable
The number of Europeans living with undiagnosed HIV has been rising, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organisation.
“Widespread stigma around HIV is deterring people from getting tested,” said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P Kluge.
“We must make access to HIV services equitable,” Dr Kluge noted, highlighting the pressing goal of ending the epidemic of HIV/AIDS by the end of the decade.