HIV-related stigma and discrimination among people living with HIV in Croatia

Sanja Belak Kovacevic1, Stacie A Solt2, Thomas E Novotny3 and Josip Begovac4
1University Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Zagreb, Croatia, 2Drexel University College of Medicine and Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, USA, 3Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, USA, 4University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Zagreb, Croatia

HIV-associated stigma and discrimination affect the quality of people’s lives and their ability to access care and support. They can also inhibit people diagnosed with HIV from disclosing their status to others [1]. Consequences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, when viewed in a wider context of public health and prevention, deter many people from testing for HIV [2].
Stigma is understood as a process that ‘significantly discredits’ an individual in the eyes of society [3]. Discrimination commonly follows stigma and is considered to be the unfair and unjust treatment of an individual based on this stigma [4]. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, stigma and discrimination have universally accompanied a diagnosis of HIV [5], and have been directed towards not only the HIV-positive individual, but also towards the individuals, groups, and communities with which they are associated [6]. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes eight dimensions of discrimination, related to major segments/categories of social living: Right to health, Right to privacy, Right to liberty and security of person, Right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Right to employment, Right to marry and found a family, Right to education, and Right to self-determination and association [7]. Read more. . .