To combat two major obstacles to HIV prevention—stigma associated with the infection and complacency about the epidemic—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched Let’s Stop HIV Together, a national communication campaign that gives voice to Americans living with HIV, and to their loved ones.
“In the fight against HIV, stigma and complacency are among our most insidious opponents,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “This campaign reminds us that HIV affects every corner of society, and that it will take every one of us–regardless of HIV status, gender, race or sexual orientation–working together to stop this epidemic.”
The campaign, which includes local and national advertising and social media, features people living with HIV standing with their friends and family, and calls on all Americans to join the fight against the disease.
More than three decades after the first reported AIDS cases, research shows that while most Americans understand how HIV is transmitted, fear, discrimination and misperceptions continue to hamper progress against the disease. For example, a 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that many Americans continue to report discomfort at the idea of interacting with those who are HIV-positive, despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva, sweat, tears or casual contact.
“Stigma remains a major barrier to HIV testing, condom use and other prevention strategies. It also discourages those living with HIV from seeking the care and treatment they need to stay healthy and avoid transmitting HIV to others,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “If we can overcome stigma and misperceptions about HIV, we can lift these barriers and save lives.”