TORONTO, December 1, 2017-For many people living with HIV, the stigma badociated with their disease is itself a health risk. It affects your mental health and well-being, your social interactions, even how close the medical advice is, adhere to your therapies and connect and remain under your care.
Identify the sources of HIV stigma and find ways to reduce and eliminate it, a research team at St. Michael's Hospital leads the HIV Stigma Index in Canada.
Directed by Dr. Sean Rourke, a scientist at the Hospital's Urban Health Solutions Center, and Dr. Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco, a researcher who has lived with HIV for more than 30 years, the team will perform up to 2,500 surveys and interviews throughout Canada, using a unique method developed in Europe and already used in dozens of countries around the world.
The Stigma Index for People Living with HIV tool requires that all interviews be conducted with people who are HIV positive, with people who are HIV positive, and that are conducted in person. The results will be used regionally to promote changes in policies, health care and individual awareness and behavior of Canadians.
An estimated 75,500 people in Canada live with HIV, according to 2014 national HIV estimates. This represents an increase of 9.7 percent since 2011, which Dr. Rourke said was discouraging, especially given that the rates of new HIV diagnoses have declined in many other Western industrialized countries.
"Stigma related to HIV refers to negative attitudes, beliefs and actions directed at people living with HIV," said Dr. Rourke on Friday, World AIDS Day. "Stigma is perceived and often internalized, and when this happens, people living with HIV are often forced to surrender to silence because of critical language and the actions of others."
Dr. Ibáñez-Carrasco said that experiencing stigma related to HIV contributes not only to worse health outcomes but also to discrimination in housing and the workplace.
"As a result of experiencing this stigma, some people can engage in behaviors that can make them vulnerable to coercion, shame, anxiety, depression and substance use, to be able to cope," he said.
Due to stigma: "People living with HIV can lose their jobs and housing, their status can be disclosed without consent, couples can reject it or accuse it of trying to infect it, and families reject it. HIV is the ultimate barrier to social equality for people living with HIV, it affects prevention efforts, access to treatment and support services, education and success in the workplace. "
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Public Health The Canadian Agency announced today that the research team received $ 1.5 million to carry out this study.
St. Michael's Hospital provides compbadionate care to all who enter through its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health professionals in 29 academic disciplines. Intensive care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, caring for the homeless and global health are among the recognized areas of specialization of the hospital. Through the Keenan Research Center and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and have a great impact around the world . Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
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