Annie LennoxIn the first step toward a global index of stigma against HIV/AIDS, a new British report finds that, years after HIV/AIDS education programs were gradually shelved, prejudice and discrimination are returning.

According to today’s Observer:

Researchers found that one in five people with an HIV diagnosis had been harassed, threatened or verbally assaulted in the past 12 months. Many reported ignorance and prejudice from within the medical profession, particularly from GPs and dentists. One in five reported being denied medical treatment because they had HIV.

In findings to be unveiled in parliament tomorrow, The People Living With HIV Stigma Index, a two-year research project funded by the Department for International Development and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, found that only 39% of people felt confident that their medical records were being kept confidential, with 18% saying their HIV status had been revealed without their consent.

Lisa Power, head of policy at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that the public was more ignorant about HIV than a decade ago. “This research is really important because it’s about people’s perception of the prejudice they face.”

Musician Annie Lennox will be one of several high-profile speakers at a briefing on the subject of HIV stigma at the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

According to

The Stigma Index is designed as a global initiative, but the UK results are the first to be obtained.

It is hoped that the initiative will be both a catalyst for creating and fostering change in the communities in which it is used, by empowering both the individuals and communities most affected by the epidemic.

Hat tip: Mike Tidmus