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Ryan White @ AIDS 2012: Stigma Still?

July 27, 2012


nancy warren, kevin khamarko, lynn wegman, and jeffery beal at their poster

Ryan White—the boy and his mom Jeanne—were a focal point for battles against HIV stigma and discrimination in the U.S. that took place over 20 years ago. They were the victors in many ways. But not all. The topic was everywhere at AIDS2012. Use the search terms "stigma" and "discrimination" in the Programme-at-a-Glance and uncover, respectively, 250 and 146 oral sessions. Poster sessions were equally focused on the matter. Below are highlights from Thursday.

  • Stigma in the Middle East. In Egypt, 35% of surveyed persons believe PLWHA should not be allowed to work. Egyptian health care worker bias against patients with HIV is reportedly highest among female workers (Breaking the Silence: Challenging HIV and AIDS Related Stigma and Discrimination in Egypt, WEGS03).
  • Provider Attitudes in the Southwest U.S. A Pacific AETC poster session on beliefs of clinicians along the California-Arizona border with Mexico reads: "qualitative focus group results identified clinicians' stigmatized views of HIV as a major barrier to HIV testing and care" (Stigma and HIV Testing: Measuring Change among Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center's [PAETC] Low Prevalence Providers, THPE467).
  • Aging and Stigma. A long-term survivor speaks in the Global Village. His anecdotal evidence is clear on the exclusion faced by older people living with HIV/AIDS. Chats on health ailments—a favorite topic for older people—glide easily along the lower gastrointestinal tract.  HIV/AIDS, however, stops the conversation (Music and Musings from the Life of a 27-Year Survivor, THCA05). With one-third of Americans living with HIV/AIDS  over 50, and the proportion rapidly increasing, will isolation also grow?

And in 2012, 30 years since the epidemic's beginning, the UNAIDS Director is compelled to call for an end to HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination. 

Responding: Training and Education

Ryan White's work continues by the program that bears his name, like health provider training through the AIDS Education and Training Centers or AETCs covered in numerous poster sessions. Some highlights over the week:

  • HIV/AIDS Provider Training Network—U.S. and Global. The AETC training network in the U.S. started out as 5 regional centers 25 years ago and now is comprised of 11 regional, 5 national, and 2 programs supporting telehealth and graduate medical education. On the global front, the international AETC, I-TECH, has been around 10 years and supports health systems strengthening in 16 countries (Building the HIV Health Workforce: Innovations from the U.S. and Abroad Through HRSA AETCs and I-TECH, THPE683).
  • Training on the U.S. Border. A U.S.-Mexico cross-border AETC project has trained over 5,000 providers and delivered 500+ hours of technical assistance on clinical and other topics. The site presents a directory of HIV/AIDS resources along the border and houses materials like a recent fact sheet, Information for Health Care Providers with Patients Who Have Been Detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (HIV Clinician Training on the United States/Mexico Border: Experiences from a 10-Year Multi-Center Collaborative of the HRSA AETCs, MOPE726).
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