NO HIV STIGMAEACS 2019
Science has demonstrated a clear link between viral load and HIV transmission risk. In 2008 Swiss scientists published the so-called Swiss Statement. According to that statement a person with HIV cannot transmit the virus to others if their viral load is consistently below the detection limit, thanks to successful therapy. Since then, more detailed and multi-center studies have been carried out. They also clearly demonstrate that HIV is not sexually transmissible when the viral load of a person with HIV is below the then detection limit.
Thus, the consequence of HIV infection has changed from the fatal AIDS disease to a chronic manageable infection. Like many other infections, it can be effectively treated. Thus, those affected can lead a normal life. With HIV one can form relationships, have healthy babies, run a marathon, have dizzying careers, grow old and retire - almost as if they one did not have HIV. However, the general population is unaware that people cannot become infected through sex with a person with HIV who is successfully on therapy.
While science has made great strides, discrimination against people with HIV has remained. Fear and prejudice against people living with HIV are deeply rooted in people, without good reason. However, some people with HIV also stigmatize themselves. Many cannot live with their HIV infection because of public pressure.
In everyday life in Switzerland, stigma and discrimination exist at all levels. People with HIV are thus confronted in private, at work and, unfortunately, again and again in medical facilities. We see a huge lack of knowledge among the population and a lack of education about how HIV is and isn’t transmitted.