Galway researchers launch survey on HIV stigma in healthcare settings

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NUI Galway researchers have launched a survey into HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings to tackle the issue and improve health outcomes for people with the disease.

The first national survey into HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings will mean Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data.

The study has been launched by researchers at the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway and can be accessed here.

It is the first of its kind in Europe as the researchers aim to learn both from people living with HIV and also those who provide healthcare for them.

Dr Elena Vaughan, who is leading the study, said that the research will help us to get a sense of what the needs and priorities are – both of people working in healthcare and people living with HIV.

“Experiences of stigma in healthcare settings can put people off engaging with healthcare services,” she said.

“This can have negative impacts on a person’s health. There is also evidence to suggest that stigma inhibits people from accessing testing and treatment, and so is a driver of the epidemic more broadly.”

Around 7,000 people are living with HIV in Ireland, and massive strides in the treatment of HIV mean that it is now easily managed with medication.

People living with HIV are living long healthy lives and cannot pass on the virus when they are on effective treatment. However, stigma remains a serious problem for many people living with HIV, and this can affect their health and well-being

Reducing HIV-related stigma is widely acknowledged as a key part of addressing the HIV epidemic.

“In addition to providing important information to help us reduce stigma in healthcare settings, the data generated from this project will be useful to programme and policy-makers in tracking progress in meeting commitments both to the SDGs and the Fast Track Cities Initiative,” added Dr Vaughan.

“Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data.”

The survey is being launched just ahead of Irish AIDS Day on June 15, 2022 and will be live for the month of June. The project is supported by HIV Ireland and funded by the Irish Research Council.