One-third of HIV sufferers ‘face discrimination’ Staff Writer March 20, 2009
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A survey has suggested that one-third of people living with HIV experienced discrimination relating to their status in the last year.

The research from the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Department of Health showed that 36 per cent of the 1,777 respondents revealed they had experienced discrimination from family members, friends and health professionals.

A disproportionately high number of HIV/AIDS sufferers are gay.

The survey, carried out by Sigma Research, also found that discrimination was compounded by homophobia, racism or asylum and immigration-related prejudice.

Marc Thompson, acting head of health promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust said “Despite provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act, large numbers of people with HIV are facing discrimination on a regular basis.

“In the family, this could be name-calling, marginalisation or even issues like the refusal of family members to share kitchen equipment. People with HIV also reported breaches of confidentiality or refusal of services from health or care professionals”.

Another issue reported was sexual health. Over a half of people with HIV were unhappy with their sex lives and two-thirds of respondents said they had experienced problems with sex in the previous year.

Peter Weatherburn, director of Sigma Research said the survey demonstrated the “complex needs” of people with HIV.

“Whilst HIV can be a chronic manageable condition for some people, many people struggle with practical and physical issues such as housing, mobility and child care,” he said.

“The widespread experience of discrimination and social isolation point to the harshness of living with HIV, compared with other chronic conditions”.

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