HIV-related stigma and discrimination are as old as the epidemic itself. In every country and in every social setting since the disease was first identified, individuals who are or are assumed to be HIV-positive have been subjected to a variety of negative reactions, including physical and verbal abuse; loss of homes and employment; rejection by family members, spouses and friends; and violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Many people are affected by compounded stigma, where HIV-related stigma combines with stigma toward excluded or marginalized groups such as homosexual men, sex workers and injecting drug users.
PAHO supports countries in reducing stigma and discrimination related to HIV through advocacy, strategic planning, technical assistance, resource mobilization and other means. In addition, PAHO promotes the development of a stigma-free environment in health services and motivates the health sector to play a leading role in the fight against stigma and discrimination.