accessibility & help

Young people still fear stigma of HIV

28 November 2011

© InfoAs World AIDS Day (1 December) approaches, a new survey has shown one in three young people in the UK fears their parents would react negatively if told they were HIV positive.

The survey, commissioned by the British Red Cross, focussed on 1,500 11 to 24-year-olds. It found that a third of those questioned were concerned about their parents becoming angry, judging disapprovingly or outright rejecting them.

In a further sign that stigma attached to HIV still remains strong, almost one in five thought that their parents wouldn’t want them to tell anyone else if they had the disease.

Lonely and afraid

Now the Red Cross has launched a powerful short film looking at the stigma and isolation faced by young people living with HIV, which asks viewers if they could be someone their friends could depend on for support.

The online video features musician Annie Lennox, comedian Stephen K. Amos, T4’s Georgie Okell and former Eastenders actor Chris Parker.

Alyson Lewis, resilience manager, said: “Some of the survey findings have been so sad.  It’s heartbreaking to think young people could feel so scared about people’s reactions to HIV that they couldn’t even tell their parents. It’s vitally important that we break this stigma.”

Count on support

However, there was some good news to suggest that stigma about HIV is gradually being overcome. More than half of those questioned felt their parents would listen to them and respect their needs, and more than two-thirds were confident their parents would love them whatever happened.

Alyson added: “For people living with HIV, having the support of someone close can make a huge difference. That’s why we’re asking everyone: ‘if someone close told you they were HIV positive, would you be there for them?’”

Watch the World AIDS Day video

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