Stigmatisation and discrimination are barriers to people accessing HIV testing and treatment and are associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes. Fear of discrimination due to negative experiences in the past can also inhibit people with HIV from accessing needed services. Often stigma is internalised, which is where a person feels shame about themselves (based on the stigma), expects or fears discrimination to occur, and may avoid services.
Health consequences of HIV-related stigma include increased rates of depression, diminished self-esteem, mental health problems, and poor physical health. Ultimately, stigmatisation and discrimination affect people’s access to health care. As such, stigmatisation itself is a breach of ethics: it leads to unjust discrimination in reducing people’s access to services which is a basic human right.