'Positive Talks' Changing Attitudes on HIV

United Nations Development Programme
2007-11-28 17:05 583

UN, Marie Stopes and the Private Sector Support People Living with HIV to Speak Out About HIV and Stigma

BEIJING, Nov. 28 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The United Nations has hosted a ceremony to launch a joint project that aims to empower and support the significant involvement of women and men living with HIV (PLHIV) as meaningful partners in China’s multi-sector response to AIDS.

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A key activity of Maries Stopes International China (MSIC), the "Positive Talks" project aims to train and support a core group of 35 women and men living with HIV and AIDS from around China to serve as effective policy advocates and peer educators. They will give "positive talks" in various HIV-related advocacy, prevention, care and awareness activities initiated by different organizations such as public and private sector companies, health care centers, schools, NGOs and the media.

"Positive Talks" is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) through the UN Joint Programme on AIDS in China (2007 – 2010), and is implemented by the China International Center for Economics and Technology Exchange (CICETE).

"The ‘Positive Talks’ Project not only builds up the confidence of the trainers in their own capacities and their relevant role in China’s HIV response," said Kang Hui, Positive Talks Project Manager, "but also inspires the participants to accept their status and gives them the opportunities and support to increase the understanding of the general population about HIV and those living with the virus."

Widespread stigma and shame affect prevention and treatment efforts and are recognized to be major contributors to the spread of the HIV epidemic. Because HIV is often wrongly perceived as a disease exclusive to marginalized groups (such as drug users, men who have sex with men –- MSM -- and sex workers) and judgmentally viewed as being caused by "morally blameful" behaviors, people are deterred from talking about HIV and getting tested.

This attitude also makes people less likely to recognize and acknowledge their risk of infection. As a consequence, individuals who are positive are identified too late and unknowingly become channels of HIV transmission.

"There is a stronger need than ever to reach the general public and ‘humanize’ the face of the HIV epidemic -- presenting it as a reality that "People living with HIV have been shown to have a significant and lasting impact on people’s awareness of their vulnerability to the disease, thereby changing social myths and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS," said UNAIDS Country Director, Bernhard Schwartlander.

This groundbreaking project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Stora Enso, a Finland-based global forest products company.

UNDP fosters human development to empower women and men to build better lives in China. As the UN’s development network, UNDP draws on a world of experience to assist China in developing its own solutions to the country’s development challenges. Through partnerships and innoation, UNDP works to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and an equitable Xiao Kang society by reducing poverty, strengthening the rule of law, promoting environmental sustainability, and fighting HIV/AIDS.

Source: United Nations Development Programme