“You can live with HIV, but you can’t live with the stigma that surrounds it,” said one anonymous contributor to the pre-cursor of the global e-forum that is being launched today by the International Federation and Health and Development Networks (HDN).
Despite efforts to combat the disease, HIV/AIDS is spiralling out of control with stigma and discrimination fuelling the rise. More than 42 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS in the world with many regions either witnessing an explosion or on the verge of it.
Recognising the impact of stigma and discrimination on HIV/AIDS transmission rates, the International Federation launched a three-year campaign last year entitled The Truth About AIDS: Pass It On.
As part of that campaign, it teamed up with HDN earlier this year to establish an e-forum within the Red Cross Red Crescent in a bid to try and understand stigma and discrimination and to find ways of tackling it through shared knowledge and experience.
Other partners in the campaign are UNAIDS and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+)
The success of that e-forum has led to the launch of a global version, which is open to all. The global forum will focus on bringing local, national and regional experiences of HIV-related stigma to the forefront in the hope that it will foster new partnerships between forum members and promote discourse among people from different professions on the subject.
“This new initiative by the International Federation and HDN will build an electronic, global community around this issue, which by sharing knowledge and experience, can help to fight the spread of the disease itself by combating one of the main root causes,” says Javier Hourcade, manager of the International Federation’s HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign.
The e-forum will explore four areas – stigma, discrimination and drug-related harm reduction; self-stigma; disclosure of HIV status; and stigma and discrimination in institutions and the workplace. First to be discussed is stigma, discrimination and drug-related harm with contributions invited from key experts to launch, frame and inform the discussion.
“We anticipate a series of highly charged, informative and meaningful discussions around the HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination,” says Nadine France, Senior Project Manager at HDN, a non-profit organisation that aims to improve communication and promote self-representation in the HIVAIDS field.
“We also see this an an opportunity to once again demonstrate the impact of electronic networking in strengthening the AIDS community from all regions of the world around a specific issue," she adds.
Following each discussion, a document will be produced both on paper and on the web capturing the highlights.
To join this exciting new e-forum, send an email NOW to: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at: http://www.hdnet.org
The Truth about AIDS. Pass in on...