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HIV stigma remains a problems in East Sussex, says local charity

THERE is still a stigma about those with HIV in East Sussex, according to the Terence Higgins Trust.

The charity reports that in East Sussex this year, one local woman was left completely isolated when her group of friends turned against her because she was known to have the HIV virus.

A man was singled out by his family who forced him to drink from a separate mug, while a woman was humiliated by her housemate, who insisted in continually bleaching the shared toilet after she used it, for no other reason than the fact they were living with HIV.

The HIV and sexual health charity, the Terence Higgins Trust, says there is still an unacceptably high level of stigma that persists around the condition in East Sussxe.

The centre is calling on people across Sussex to sign up for its World Aids Day campaign Stand Up, Stand Out on December 1 and raise funds to combat HIV-related stigma locally.

In 2009, a national study reported that over a third of people with HIV had experienced discrimination in the previous year, whether from members of their own community, from doctors or other healthcare professionals, or even from other family members.

Fear of discrimination can have a profound effect on individuals, preventing them from being open about their condition, and inhibiting the open discussion needed to challenge society’s lack of understanding about HIV.

Sue Peters, Regional Manager for Terrence Higgins Trust in the South, said: “Thirty years on from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV remains surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition.

“All over the country, our centres come into contact with people who have been routinely discriminated against, hounded from the workplace, barred from venues and services, disowned by their families, attacked and sometimes seriously hurt, all because they have contracted a virus that can be easily controlled with medication. This needs to change.

“We are calling on East Sussex to get behind this year’s World AIDS Day campaign, and help us make a dent in HIV-related stigma locally. You can be as loud and proud as you like, whether its taking on a sponsored challenge, holding a fundraising event, or just buying a red ribbon to show you care. The funds you raise will help us spread the message that people with HIV need support, not judgement.”

For further information on Stand Up, Stand Out, please visit www.tht.org.uk/worldaidsday.

To get involved locally, contact the Terrence Higgins Trust in Eastbourne on 01323 649927, or email: info.eastbourne@tht.org.uk

 

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