What is HIV stigma?

HIV related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes and abuse directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. Stigma makes people not want to get tested, not want to go get their results, nor tell their friends, families, or partners. This stigma is detrimental to the wellbeing of individuals looking to be tested, who are positive, and who have yet to seek medical aid for HIV. Some examples:

  • Over 40% of the 2SLGBTQ+ community said they would not date someone with HIV
  • Over 21% of the Canadian population still believes you can catch HIV by sharing a sweater with an HIV+ person
  • Information about HIV is usually targeted to those already HIV+ instead of people who are negative
  • The Canadian Blood Services and Health Canada has a blood ban for men who have sex with men despite the availability of rapid testing.

Layered stigma

On top of stigma related to HIV/AIDS, many poz folks also experience multiple layers of stigma such as:

  • Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, etc.
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Classism
  • Ableism
  • Misogyny, Transmisogyny

Manage your risks

Not all sex has the same risk. Your risk of exposure to HIV depends on the kind of sex you have, your HIV status, your partner’s HIV status and condom / PrEP use.

During the first couple of months after someone becomes infected with HIV their viral load and risk of transmitting the virus is at its highest.

ACB, Indigenous & Two-Spirit Stigma and Discrimination

  • We see higher HIV rates among Indigenous and African Caribbean communities
  • People from racialized and Indigenous groups are reconciling negative messages about racial minority status and how they feel about themselves as a result of ongoing racism and the impacts of colonialism
  • This is an especially big challenge within the trans community, as two-thirds of trans people of colour in Ontario have never been tested for HIV.

HIV Stigma and Discrimination | Avert