This guest post is written by Barbara de Zalduondo, Chief of the Programmatic Priorities Support Division with UNAIDS in Geneva. She has been involved in AIDS for more than two decades, ranging from work in Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the world of policy.
On Thursday, I moderated the session “Stigma and Discrimination.” To me this session was important because it focused on a new powerful tool – the Stigma Index – designed to better understand HIV-related stigma and discrimination. We will use this information for both policy advocacy and for programme monitoring and evaluation, and believe it can help shape future interventions and policy change.
The session stimulated discussion from people who were involved in the development of the tool and who spoke about their own experience of being judged and ostracized because of being HIV positive. Some spoke about the layers of stigma they face because of their sexual orientation, drug use or sexual behaviour.
The Index revolves around “four Ps” – people, process, product and partnership – and it enables people living with HIV to document the experiences of other HIV-positive people. The resulting product of this process will be data that will help everyone to better understand how stigma is experienced in different settings and communities and how this changes over time. The resulting data can be used to help design appropriate programmes and policies that address stigma and discrimination.
For this collaborative project, all kinds of groups participated, including community leaders, activists, researchers, and human rights advocates around the world. UNAIDS is rolling out the project in a dozen countries, and hope to see results later this year.