59% of Americans think it’s “important to be careful” around people with HIV

59% of Americans think it’s “important to be careful” around people with HIV

A new study has shown that HIV stigma is still rampant in the United States.

According to new findings released by GLAAD’s State of HIV Stigma Study, 88% of those surveyed agreed that people were quick to judge those living with HIV. Sadly, only half of Americans felt “knowledgeable about HIV,” but 90% believe that promoting prevention should be a high priority.

Although HIV is not easily transmitted, 59% agree with the stigma-reinforcing statement that it’s “important to be careful around people living with HIV to avoid catching it.”

When asked about their comfort levels in several scenarios interacting with people living with HIV, 54% said they would be uncomfortable with a medical professional, 49% would be uncomfortable with a spouse and 45% would be uncomfortable with their barber or hairstylist.

In a statement, GLAAD said the HIV epidemic won’t end “until we tackle the effects of stigma”.

“We partnered with Gilead Sciences to better understand how much stigma still exists and its impact on those living with HIV,” they wrote. “Despite making significant progress towards ending the epidemic, a majority of the public feels uncomfortable, uninformed, and concerned about HIV and people living with it.

“The State of HIV Stigma survey confirms that stigma and misinformation around HIV is widespread, and there is much work to be done to educate the public before we can end the epidemic once and for all.”

The study was conducted online between November and December 2019 from a national sample of 2,506 adults over the age of 18. It was in partnership with Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company that specialises in making innovative medicine to combat HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and influenza, including Harvoni and Sovaldi.

Despite concerns, GLAAD said they’re “heartened by a final and important finding in the study: support for education and optimism about HIV is incredible high amongst Americans.”

You can read the study in full here.

Related: There’s new hope in the fight against HIV stigma.

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