Monday, October 8, 2012

HIV, Stigma Still Coexist, Says APA Award Winner

Thirty years after the HIV-AIDS epidemic made its appearance, the epidemic—and the stigma that surrounds it—are still with us.

So said Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., winner of APA’s John Fryer Award, at APA’s Institute on Psychiatric Services in New York. Hill is the chief executive officer of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the oldest AIDS service and advocacy organization.

She told psychiatrists at the meeting that 1 in 5 people who are HIV positive are unaware of their HIV status. “HIV is fraught with enormous social, economic, and psychiatric challenges,” Hill said. “The nuances around HIV prevention, education, treatment, and care are linked to stigma....Stigma often impacts HIV testing as it may keep and does keep individuals from seeking an HIV test. Twenty percent of individuals living with HIV don’t know it. Why don’t they know it? Because they are not willing to take what is now a 20-minute rapid test. Stigma also impedes on treatment follow-up and HIV disclosure."

GMHC provides a continuum of services to 12,000 persons annually paired with a robust public policy advocacy. Previously, Hill was HIV/AIDS assistant Commissioner for the New York City Department of Public Health. The John Fryer Award is named in honor of psychiatrist John Fryer, a gay activist who made an appearance in disguise at APA's 1972 annual meeting to announce that he was gay.

(Imagae: Ellen Dallager)


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