Overcoming Stigma

According to the The National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States [HIV.gov], a key component to reducing HIV-related health disparities is overcoming the stigma associated with an HIV diagnosis. Thirty years after the first cases of AIDS were identified, people still experience housing, employment, health care and public accommodation discrimination. See Goal 3.C on page 41 to read more about this.

The language we use to describe HIV can either empower or stigmatize people living with HIV. HIV Language Matters (PDF : 216 kB) provides a guide to using preferred language to reduce stigma. Learn more on HIVE Online [UCSF].

Pop culture artist Katy Perry teamed up with UNICEF to create a video [UNAIDS] aimed at decreasing stigma and offering unconditional support to people with HIV. The video is aimed at adolescents to help reduce the barrier stigma sometimes creates in accessing health care services.

In 2014, Melissa Harris-Perry moderated a discussion between Alicia Keys, a longtime AIDS/HIV activist, and several guests whose poignant histories helped get to the heart of the matter of AIDS within our communities. The video is available at Essence – Through Love of Self, Family and Community: Empowering Black Women to End AIDS.

Greater Than AIDS, created several different campaigns aimed at reducing stigma and promoting the importance of knowing one’s status. You can order materials for posting and share items with colleagues to demonstrate the importance reducing stigma.

TestTexas HIV Coalition logo


Approximately 18,000 Texans are unaware of their HIV infection.


Knowledge is power. Learning one’s positive serostatus is the first step for newly diagnosed HIV patients to get linked to care and treated early in the disease process with the potential to have a nearly normal lifespan.
- C. Everett Koop, Former Surgeon General of the United States




Last updated May 1, 2018