Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIV) and other priority populations must be addressed as part of a combination HIV prevention approach.
We sensitize healthcare providers to care for priority populations with respect and offer them services that best fit their needs. We also work with policymakers to eliminate stigma and discrimination through local and national laws and policies.
Many of our clients experience stigma and discrimination because of their age, race, sexual identity, gender identity, form of employment, and/or drug and alcohol use. People who are stigmatized or discriminated against are less likely to seek healthcare and/or legal services, putting them at higher risk of HIV infection and violence. This is especially true in countries where laws specifically target and criminalize activities of certain populations, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.
People living with HIV are also often targets of stigma and discrimination, hindering their ability to adhere to treatment, seek employment, care for their families, and participate in the community.
To address stigma and discrimination among the populations we serve, PSI works with a wide variety of audiences, including people who experience stigma, as well as key influencers whose own discriminatory attitudes can create an environment that places individuals at higher risk of HIV infection. Some approaches we use to address stigma and discrimination include:
- Sensitizing police and law enforcement about the importance of HIV prevention for key populations, and how restrictive laws and/or police abuse can create barriers to accessing HIV care and prevention products.
- Training health care providers to offer services for stigmatized populations that are free of judgment and discrimination.
- Working directly with populations that face high levels of societal stigma, such as men who have sex with men, to decrease self-stigma that results in high-risk behavior.
- Mobilizing communities to reduce discrimination against people living with HIV and normalize HIV prevention behaviors such as condom use and HIV testing.
We also participate in the development of National HIV Strategic Plans in the countries where we work. As part of this development, we actively promote the adoption of targets for zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Making a Difference
The Pan-American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), our affiliate in Central America, contributes to the Generación Cero movement to reduce stigma and discrimination towards key populations at risk for HIV infection and people living with HIV: Read about it here.