The UK People Living with HIV Stigma Survey 2015

Irina Lut
Family Planning Association, London

The landscape for people living with HIV (PLWH) in the UK has changed dramatically over the last 20 years with significant advances being made in treatment and prevention methods that enable PLWH to have improved life expectancy and opportunities to be involved in fulfilling relationships. However, there is still much to be done to significantly reduce stigma and discrimination and continue to improve the quality of life, health and overall wellbeing of PLWH. The 2016 Public Health England ‘HIV in the UK’ report states that 87% of PLWH in the UK were diagnosed [1]. Of people living with diagnosed HIV, 96% were on treatment and a further 94% of those were virally suppressed, giving them an undetectable viral load. An undetectable viral load refers to the very low amount of HIV in a diagnosed person’s blood (usually under 50 copies/mL) [2]. This significantly decreases sexual transmission of the virus to a partner [3] and is the key to the long-term health of PLWH [4]. It is crucial for practitioners and advocates to support their HIV-positive service users to truly understand the value proposition held within achieving and maintaining this ‘new HIV status’. The new age of ‘undetectability’ and better knowledge about HIV transmission in the general population is necessary to reduce the stigma experienced by PLWH. The widespread awareness and appreciation of what it means for someone living with HIV to be undetectable will significantly contribute to ongoing stigma reduction interventions in the UK and to support the improvements in quality of life for PLWH across multiple areas of their lives. Read more…