Impact of HIV-related stigma and discrimination

Stigmatisation and discrimination are barriers to people accessing HIV testing and treatment and are associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes.[19] 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.[20] 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.