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New HIV/AIDS ‘Stigma Index’ Released In Uganda

The National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda, or NAFOPHANU, on Thursday released its first-ever “stigma index,” which aims to quantify “the degree and types of stigma suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS,” VOA News reports, noting the organization “hopes that bringing the issue to light will help create policies to fight discrimination, and eventually conquer it.” The news service writes, “Based on a survey of over 1,000 HIV-positive people across the country, it found that the most common forms of stigma are gossip, verbal insults and threats.” Margaret Happy of NAFOPHANU “said this type of stigma can create shame and guilt, and often prevents people from accessing treatment,” the news service writes, adding, “‘Eleven percent of the respondents revealed that they were forced to undergo sterilization because they tested HIV-positive. Over 21 percent of the respondents revealed that they lost their jobs because of being HIV-positive,’ she said.” According to VOA, “A further 41 percent said they were excluded from family activities, and 20 percent had been physically assaulted because of their HIV status.” VOA notes, “Happy said NAFOPHANU plans to conduct the survey regularly to monitor Uganda’s progress. Similar studies have been done in Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa” (Heuler, 10/30).