HIV-related stigma is a significant problem globally. HIV stigma inflicts hardship and suffering on people living with HIV and interferes with research, prevention, treatment, care and support efforts. HIV-related stigma refers to negative beliefs, feelings and attitudes towards people living with HIV, their families and people who work with them. HIV stigma often reinforces existing social inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and culture. Stigma against many vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by HIV (such as the stigma of homosexuality, drug use, poverty, migration, transgender status, mental illness, sex work and racial, ethnic and tribal minority status) predates the epidemic and intersects with HIV stigma, which compounds the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV (PLWH) who belong to such groups.1 HIV-related discrimination, also known as enacted HIV stigma, refers to the unfair and unjust treatment of someone based on their real or perceived HIV status. Discrimination also affects family members and friends, caregivers, healthcare and lab staff who care for PLWH. The drivers of HIV-related discrimination usually include misconceptions regarding casual transmission of HIV and pre-existing prejudices against certain populations, behaviors, sex, drug use, illness and death. Discrimination can be institutionalized through laws, policies and practices that unjustly affect PLWH and marginalized groups.

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