Hong Kong’s first-ever HIV Stigma Research: Strong Stigma attached to HIV/AIDS
Hong Kong’s first-ever HIV Stigma Research
Strong Stigma attached to HIV/AIDS
In the period of December 2012 to September 2013, AIDS Concern in conjunction with the Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have conducted the first-ever HIV Stigma Research in Hong Kong - “HIV Stigma Watch” studying the discriminations against people living with HIV (PLHIV). The primary objective of the study is to investigate the effects of stigmas on PLHIV's physical and mental health, and to examine the factors associated to these stigmas. In summary, 291 PLHIV were invited to complete anonymous self-report questionnaires for the study, and it is revealed that the stigma index of PLHIV in Hong Kong is 3.82 (On a scale from 1 to 6) while 49.3% (143 out of 291) of the participants had internalized stigmatizing beliefs about their identity as a PLHIV. The study also revealed another worrying fact that more than 50% (156 out of 291) of the participants’ WHO-Five Well-being(WHO-5) score was below the WHO's recommended cut-off point indicating poor well-being (research result - see appendix 1).
Professor Winnie Mak Wing Sze, from CUHK said that “HIV Stigma Watch” is the initial step in developing a local HIV stigma index and investigating the different experiences of stigmas among the PLHIV in Hong Kong which allows the society to re-examine the current strategies and resources for HIV/AIDS and PLHIV in Hong Kong. She pointed out that stigmatization will worsen PLHIV’s life satisfaction and quality of life and suggested that PLHIV could use the Internalized stigma scale to evaluate his/her internalized stigmatizing condition. If necessary, PLHIV should seek medical care and assistance, and gain support from PLHIV peer support group via AIDS care and other NGO like AIDS Concern which could help to establish a positive life attitudes. Family and friends of PLHIV should also adopt a positive attitude towards HIV/AIDS, learn more about the routes of transmission and PLHIV, and provide appropriate emotional support to the PLHIV.
The study found that some of the participants have experienced insults, avoidance or discrimination from non-HIV healthcare professionals. 13% participants were made to wait until the last to receive healthcare services in hospital/clinics, 9.6% were arranged to use disposable eating utensils while others were not when hospitalized, and 9.1% were denied healthcare services. These unfair treatments would not only cause PLHIV psychological distress, but also weaken their confidence towards the healthcare system and stop them from seeking help and treatment which is destructive in developing an AIDS-free community. In addition to being discriminated in hospital/clinics, 10.6% participants were required to disclose his/her HIV status when applying jobs and 5.4% participants were fired or forced to quit the job because of his/her HIV status in the past year.
In this regard, Ms. Mandy Cheung, Program Director of AIDS Concern, reminded healthcare professionals and employers that PLHIV are protected by the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) as other people with disabilities, which allow PLHIV free from discrimination and stigma when receiving healthcare services and facilities, job-seeking, employment and daily life. Ms. Mandy Cheung emphasized that AIDS has long been categorized as chronic disease. With proper treatment, PLHIV could lead healthy lives and would not infect others through daily social contacts. And while treating PLHIV at hospitals/clinics, performing Standard Precautions should be able to protect healthcare professionals from infections and hence no need to treat PLHIV differently. She called on the Hong Kong society, especially the healthcare profession, to take initiative to learn more about HIV/AIDS, and help establishing a positive and supportive attitude or a “Zero-stigma” society (recommendations - see appendix 2).
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For media enquiries and details about the【HIV Stigma Watch】, please contact:
Miss Grace NG, Communications Officer of AIDS Concern
Tel.：2898 4411 / 9753 3260
About AIDS Concern
AIDS Concern was established in 1990 as the first non-government charity organization committed to the service of AIDS-care and consultation in Hong Kong. Our mission is to keep HIV low prevalence in Hong Kong through targeted prevention and care programmes for vulnerable communities, and to reduce the stigma attached to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Address: 17B, Block F, 3 Lok Man Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: (852)2898 4411
Fax: (852)2505 1682
About The Diversity & Mental Health Promotion Laboratory of CUHK