Stigma – 30 Years Into the Epidemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID

Our colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will appear tonight on "Hope Survives: 30 Years of AIDS," Exit Disclaimer an hour-long special on Anderson Cooper 360° at 9pm ET on CNN.

The program will focus on the role stigma continues to play in the spread of HIV, and prevention and treatment issues.

Stigma is a critical issue addressed by The National HIV/AIDS Strategy as stated in the Strategy's vision statement — "The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination."  

 Read the Strategy here (PDF).


  1. Tonight I watched Anderson Cooper 360 Special on “Hope Survives: 30 Years of AIDS” on CNN.
    For the many HIV/AIDS advocates and activists, the hour long program that highlighted the statistics, the remarkable progress …in combating HIV/AIDS and
    featured those groups most impacted was nothing new. I was happy to see Mo’Nique, Alton John and Phil Wilson give their prospective on the epidemic to those newly infected and affected by the virus in hope of combating the stigma that surrounds this epidemic some 30 years later. For me the program was a positive one and part of what is needed to bring HIV/AIDS back to public discourse.
    I recommend we all go to and share our “Deciding Moment”, the personal experiences that changed how you think about the disease and what inspired you to get involved.
    Yours in the struggle,
    Joseph Sellman, Chair
    National Action Network
    Committee on HIV/AIDS Awareness

  2. Free from stigma is key but how do we dispel it? My clients refer to it as “the monster.” Nothing I seem to say changes its name…

  3. Brokenhearted Mom says:

    Just a comment when is America going to wake up and stop being in denial that we pidgeon hole people to either deny their desires that infect others and wreck havoc on others that feel that they were not good enough somehow to acheive real love which is openess and acceptance that this is a real issue!
    Even my own son won’t come forward but not this mom who risked her job and really was glad to be sent free to be of real change.
    Well who knows what my decision holds but at least I tried ro be openess and compassion . Not silence that is the root of evil.

  4. I missed the show, but I think that this point is overwhelmingly important and oft overlooked.
    Until the public comes to terms with the disease, problems will exist at many levels.

  5. BONNIE HARDY says:

    When the Vietnam veterans returned they were stigmatized – very few received a royal welcome. Today many of our veterans live on the outskirts of the community – they are marginalized. When I was a youngster the adults never talked about cancer – it was too frightening- it terrified everyone. Cancer patients were marginalized. Now we have chemo and radiation and family and friends support the patient. We have HIV/AIDS and we don’t talk about it (very often) so the people who are infected feel marginalized. Patients and professionals can serve the community and bring imformation to those who are not aware and are fearful of the unknown. Let’s intervene and partner to reduce high-risk activity so that people will never have to feel stigmatized and marginalized. We stigmatize that which we fear.

  6. reginaldandiego says:

    thanks for the word about stigma truly we do see what happens to us in africa particular kenya where some ministers in the goverment go as far as suggesting that infected poeple like me should be saperated from the well. Think of how this effects us. You shuld try tell them that we need support snd we are active in nation building. Thanks for your comment

  7. Ridding the world of HIV-related stigma also requires a maturity in language, as well as a measure of truth in recounting the history of HIV as to unite the global struggle.
    “AIDS” was coined before we knew the infectious agent at work, and it is the only infectious disease where science and society continue to recite a heavily stigmatized word, instead of naming the known culprit HIV in the absence of any use of a dated term. Do we say “consumption/TB”? No. Using “AIDS” or “HIV/AIDS” furthers the perception that late-stage HIV disease is inevitable, contradicting the truth that today’s HIVers, like non-HIVers, are more likely to die of heart disease than the virus, thanks to advancements in treatment. Recalling an old view of HIV disease drives fear that keeps people from testing early in their life while infected., and it helps to perpetuate stigma from the uninfected.
    Similarly, the “30 years” motif belies the truth about the emergence of HIV worldwide. The virus had taken tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives in Africa, Haiti, and other nations before American doctors noted the appearance of advanced HIV disease among white Gay men. The proverbial tree had fallen decades before the MMWR publication identifying what would later be known as signs of advanced HIV disease, and over twenty years later science would validate the pre-1981 emergence and history of HIV. Continuing to discuss the history of HIV as if it began with the publication by Masur et al. stigmatizes Gay and Bisexual men and dismisses the toll which Africa had borne silently for decades.

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