HIV related stigma

What is HIV-related stigma?

HIV related stigma is when people have negative beliefs, views or attitudes about people living with HIV because of their HIV status. People from communities which are at a higher risk of HIV can also experience stigma because of their association with HIV.

Stigma is often the result of fear, a lack of knowledge or understanding, and stereotypes. HIV-related stigma can occur in many places, including workplaces, among family and friends, in health services, and in the community. It can prevent people from getting tested for HIV, and significantly impact on the lives of people living with HIV by fuelling prejudice and discrimination.

Discrimination is sometimes referred to as enacted stigma, and happens when people act upon HIV-related stigma. Examples of discrimination can include:

  • Harassment, bullying or verbal abuse
  • Pre-employment HIV testing
  • Denial of rental property
  • Refusal to provide services at nail salons, airlines, gyms or sporting clubs
  • Refusal to provide child and home care services

What's happening in Scotland?

The Scottish Government stated in the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework 2015-2020 that they are committed to raising awareness around HIV as a public health issue, both in relation to important health messages (prevention, testing and diagnosis) but also as a means of tackling and reducing stigma.

In Scotland, there are a number of informative and accessible projects targeted at ending stigma. A few key projects are:

Despite some progress in challenging HIV-related stigma in Scotland, much more needs to be done.

What we're doing

Stigma is a priority issue for HIV Scotland. Over the next year we will be bringing people together to learn from what’s already been done to challenge stigma, identify what needs to happen next and develop an anti-stigma strategy of Scotland. Tackling HIV-related stigma is everyone’s responsibility and an integrated effort from all communities and stakeholders across Scotland will be needed.

For more information on how to get involved in this work, visit our Stigma Strategy page.