Over 60,000 Canadians and 37 million people worldwide live with HIV. HIV and AIDS have begun enormous fear and discrimination – to the extent that in Colombia, politicians have been discussing the HIV quarantine.
Since then, the progress of scientific advances in HIV has been very rapid. But stigma and discrimination related to HIV are not omitted and the global epidemic is not far away.
There are still 2,000 new cases of HIV in Canada. Fundraising for AIDS service providers has slowed down and global R & D funding for HIV has fallen.
This World AIDS Day calls for recognition that negative judgment and feelings about HIV intertwine with each other and are associated with racism, transfobia and homophobia.
You may have HIV and become "non-transmitted"
Because of access to modern antiretroviral treatment methods, HIV has become the most manageable state. Research from the BC Center for Excellence in HIV / AIDS (BC-CfE) has shown that HIV-treated people now have a similar life expectancy as HIV negative.
Julio Montaner, Director of BC-CfE, has promoted the concept of "Treatment as a Prevention" (TasP). The medical and scientific community has come to the conclusion that a person living with HIV can become "non-transmissible", meaning that there is no risk of the virus being transmitted sexually if they reach undetectable viral load through HIV treatment. People living with HIV led the "undetectable = non-transit" movement to share this hope message and fight HIV stigma.
According to our own research on the Momentum Hygienic Study, the number of HIV-negative homosexuals in Vancouver who knew that this concept nearly doubled from 2012 to 2015. The good news is that this was not associated with a drop in the use of condoms.
Bad message: Key messages on HIV prevention and testing may not be addressed to all viewers. For example, we found that bisexual men, elderly men and men living outside the city were significantly less likely to have been tested for HIV in the past two years.
Unfortunately, efforts to stop the spread of HIV prevent fear and stigma. For example, some homosexual and bisexual men are never tested for HIV because they fear a possible impact on their relationships and sexual life, and they can face discrimination.
Men are still afraid to call a doctor and try them
In Canada, it remains a crime that consensual sex does not release HIV-positive status unless a condom is used.
This Discrimination Act remains despite the scientists agree that an individual with undetectable viral load can not transmit the virus. This has been demonstrated by a study in which nearly 60,000 condomless behaviors between serodiscordant couples (where one HIV partner is negative and the other HIV positive) did not lead to HIV transmission.
World AIDS Day: Stop the criminalization of HIV
These fears also make it difficult for men to tell their doctor about sex with other men. At least one quarter of Momentum participants did not tell their doctors that they had sex with men, and these men were half as likely to have recently been tested for HIV.
Stigma also affects access to services and mental health. Men who have experienced more mental problems (depression and the use of more illicit drugs) have become more involved in sex that could go through HIV.
Feelings of separation from the disease can be linked to discrimination. For example, the HIV risk among transsexuals in the Momentum Health Study was caused by difficulties in finding safe sex partners, condom use challenges, and barriers to access to healthcare, including transition services.
There is an effective cure for HIV prevention
In the HIV prevention tool, we now have more tools than the peak of the epidemic. Safer sex, which once referred to condoms alone, is now considering issues such as undetectable status and preventive prophylaxis, or PREC.
HIV Prevention Drug The PREP is highly effective if it is consistently used and available for free to eligible HIV-negative people in British Columbia who are at high risk for HIV.
Before PrEP was included in B.C., only 2.3% of homosexuals in the Momentum Health study in Vancouver used PrEP. However, awareness of PREP increased more than fourfold to 80% from 18% during this period.
Though problems remain with access, thousands of gays and other people at risk of HIV through B.C. now you PrEP for free.
HIV has changed. And our perceptions must catch up. Now is the time for policy makers, service providers and the country as a whole to have a better understanding of HIV.
Dissatisfaction, ignorance, and seeing HIV as something dishonest prevents us from advancing our efforts to support people living with HIV and to restrict new infections.