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HIV testing

Ending Stigma: Lessons from the AIDS Epidemic -- Guest post by Laura Derksen

This is number 9 in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.

As HIV continues to spread in sub-Saharan Africa, so does stigma. Many go to great lengths to hide their HIV status, get tested at clinics far from home to avoid being seen, and put off medical care until it's much too late. This has devastating effects. While life-saving medication is now provided for free in most parts of Southern Africa, there are still over one million AIDS deaths every year. Reluctance to seek treatment also has a negative externality. Antiretroviral drugs slow the spread of HIV dramatically, but a “treatment for prevention” strategy won’t work if people don’t seek treatment.

What causes stigma? What can we do about it?

Is It Better to Know than to Not Know?

Berk Ozler's picture

A 1994 song titled “Positive” by Spearhead goes:

“I should-a done this a long time ago

A-lot of excuses why I couldn't go

I know, these things and these things, I must know

'Cause it's better to know than to not know!

 

But how am I gonna live my life if I'm positive?

Is it gonna be a negative?

…”

 

What happens when people refuse to update their beliefs?

Berk Ozler's picture

Last week I wrote about “treatment as prevention.” Because being treated by a combination of ARV drugs effectively prevents the transmission of HIV from an infected person to his (her) uninfected partner, the idea is that if we were to test as many people as possible, find out who is infected, and offer them ARVs, we could make significant headway in preventing the spread of HIV. In other words, test and treat.