Campaign launched in Brighton to tackle HIV stigma

Actors in one of the short films about HIV stigma
Actors in one of the short films about HIV stigma

A Brighton-based charity has launched a campaign to erase stigma around HIV.

A series of films and animations will run across social media with the aim of reducing misconceptions and challenging current perspectives around HIV.

The Martin Fisher Foundation launched its Making HIV-Stigma History campaign on Thursday, hoping to create an HIV stigma-free society and encourage more people to come forward for testing.

According to Public Health England 12 per cent of people living with HIV in England are unaware of their diagnosis.

Dr Carlos Peralta, a senior design lecturer from the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton, said: “We have an opportunity to tackle HIV-stigma head-on. If people are tested, diagnosed and treated then there is a real chance of eliminating HIV altogether. A lot has changed in recent years but stigma and misinformation about HIV are still widespread.

“The Making HIV-Stigma History campaign, based on direct consultation with people living with HIV and others attending our design-inspired participatory workshops, seeks to change current stereotypes and contribute to the wellbeing of people living with HIV.”

Dr Gillian Dean, consultant HIV physician and trustee at the Martin Fisher Foundation, said: “We all have a part to play in reducing the stigma around HIV. That might be learning the facts and talking openly about HIV, setting people right when their knowledge is outdated or making sure that no-one living with HIV is ever made to feel ashamed. Other measures include testing regularly and encouraging others to test, using condoms, or taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or HIV medication every day if you need it.”

Dr Liliana Rodriguez, project manager at the Martin Fisher Foundation, said: “In Brighton and Hove there is a unique opportunity to be world leaders in tackling stigma and ultimately eliminating HIV – so let’s get on with it.”

The Making HIV-Stigma History campaign has been funded by a Public Health England HIV Innovations grant.

To find out more, visit: www.themartinfisherfoundation.org/makinghivstigmahistory