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Stigma clings stubbornly to women living with HIV/AIDS
Date:3/31/2008

y 40 percent were sure they had not been tested for HIV. A majority (80 percent) of these respondents indicated that they did not need a test either because they knew they did not have HIV or because they didnt think they needed to be tested.

However, respondents overwhelmingly supported expanded HIV testing and 65 percent support making HIV testing part of standard routine healthcare. This acceptance may be partially linked to the belief that HIV testing occurs more frequently than it does, with 67 percent mistakenly assuming that they are automatically screened for HIV when they are tested for other sexually transmitted infections. Fifty percent believed that women are automatically tested during prenatal exams.

The survey draws much needed attention to the plight of women living with HIV/AIDS. Forty-six percent of people with HIV/AIDS worldwide about 15.4 million are women and girls. In the United States, women account for 27 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, up from only eight percent in 1985. Both domestically and internationally, women continue to face widespread social and gender inequalities that can make it difficult for them to reduce their risk of HIV infection. In addition, women are biologically more susceptible to HIV infection than men.

In the minds of many people, AIDS in the United States is no longer a crisis, said Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A., amfARs senior policy and medical advisor and former deputy assistant secretary for womens health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Complacency has obscured the changing face of the epidemic and the dramatic rise in HIV infections in women over the past 25 years. These results should serve as a wake-up call for action across all sectors of society. We need to intensify efforts for science-based education and policy to shatter the stigma that has surrounded this disease for all too long.

The online survey, conducted by Harris Interact
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Contact: Donald Kaplan
donald.kaplan@amfar.org
212-816-1602
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Source:Eurekalert

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