too much misinformation out there – education on HIV is much needed

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NAT (National AIDS Trust) today launches its fourth survey ’HIV: Public Knowledge and Attitudes 2010’, conducted by Ipsos MORI amongst adults aged 16+ in Great Britain (referred to henceforth as ‘people’ or ‘the public’). The report reveals a worrying decline in knowledge and understanding of HIV over the past ten years.

One in five adults do not realise HIV is transmitted through sex without a condom between a man and a woman

  • Only three in ten adults (30%) can correctly identify, from a list of possible routes, all of the ways HIV is and is not transmitted
  • An increasing proportion of adults incorrectly believe HIV can be transmitted by impossible routes such as kissing and spitting
  • Nearly a fifth of adults (19%) believe if a family member was HIV positive it would damage their relationship with them
  • More than two thirds of British adults (68%) agree more needs to be done to tackle prejudice against people living with HIV in the UK

Over in the US, ABC News has carried out an experiment in a diner. Some people think that discrimination on the basis of living with HIV doesn’t happen – but watch here and see.

For those of us who are very public about living with HIV we can face similar discrimination on a near daily basis. For those who are not public about their diagnosis they can still face the discrimination but it is probably harder for them to combat it. In a recent survey in Belfast, fewer than 5% of those living with HIV felt that they could share that wider than health care professionals and support workers. Obviously, I am one of those that is able. I am a lucky one.

We must tell the world that HIV is not contagious in normal everyday life. That’s one of the reasons that I am so public about living with HIV. It helps to break down the stigma.

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