An article published in the journal AIDS Care has, for the first time, reviewed research on HIV stigma between gay men and within gay communities.
HIV stigma within gay communities is expressed through somcial exclusion, ageism, rejection, violence, and discrimination based on physical appearance. There are serious consequences associated with HIV stigma, including higher rates of depression, feelings of isolation and high-risk behaviour.
"We know that gay men with HIV are at greater risk of mental health problems. HIV stigma exacerbates these issues and can have serious consequences for general and mental health. Not much attention has been given to HIV stigma between gay men, and increased efforts to combat HIV stigma, in all its forms, are needed," says Dr Michael Brady, co-author, consultant in sexual health and HIV at King's College Hospital, London, UK, and a member of the Men2Men Collective.
"Stigma and segregation have very negative impacts on the efficacy of sexual health programmes and onward HIV transmission," says Peter J. Smit, lead author, a member of Men2Men Collective and pro bono human rights advocate and journalist at the Dutch HIV Association. "HIV stigma should have decreased with the introduction of effective therapies. However, our review has found stigmatising and discriminatory views continue to be held, among gay men themselves, and their effects are detrimental to the quality of life and emotional well-being of HIV-positive gay men."