The Impact of Stigma on Public Health Practice

By Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

The vision for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) is that the U.S. will reduce HIV infections and ensure that high-quality, life-extending care will be available to everyone “free of stigma and discrimination.” Given the importance of stigma in addressing the HIV epidemic, we recently hosted a seminar on stigma and public health practice at the 2012 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). We shared findings from a MAC AIDS Fund (MAF)-supported survey we conducted with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) to assess the effects of stigma on Black and Latino gay men in the U.S. We also discussed stigma as a barrier to HIV prevention, its role as an obstacle to tackling the treatment cascade – leaving only 25 percent of those infected with undetectable viral loads – and presented two examples of stigma as a structural barrier to achieving the goals of public health. Continue reading