WE'RE CALLING ON KIWIS TO END HIV STIGMA
HIV treatments have come a long way over the last 30 years, but unfortunately, sometimes it seems that attitudes in New Zealand have not.
“How about stop spreading disease like filthy vermin?”
“Here’s an easy solution – don’t be f**ing gay.”
“HIV is just natural selection.”
“That’s what you get for pooftering. You knew the risks and chose to ignore them. Live with it.”
These are real comments that we have received from real New Zealanders on our Facebook pages since launching our most recent campaign – which ironically is aimed at reducing HIV stigma.
People living with HIV still have to deal with outdated perceptions from people who haven’t caught up with the developments in HIV treatments. A recent survey showed that today, in 2018, 42% of New Zealanders aren’t comfortable having their food prepared by someone living with HIV.
So when we say that stigma is the biggest issue facing people living with HIV, we aren’t exaggerating. Here are some facts that we want everyone to know:
- Firstly, although gay and bi guys are most at risk of getting HIV in New Zealand, HIV can affect anyone, no matter their gender, sexuality, age or ethnicity. HIV is not a ‘gay disease’.
- Today’s medications can suppress the virus to extremely low levels, usually to the point where life expectancy is the same as an HIV negative person’s – and to a point where the virus cannot be passed on via sex.
- Stigma is not only damaging, but actually fuels the spread of HIV – because if people are scared of being diagnosed with HIV, they’re much less likely to get tested. And undiagnosed HIV is the main way that the virus is spread!
We are sure that if you’re reading this, you’ll find the comments above as offensive, outrageous and upsetting as we do. Fear, stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV have been going on for far too long. We need your help to put a stop to it for once and for all. Take the pledge here to take action against stigma.