The survey ‘People Living with HIV Stigma Index 2.0 in Moldova (2023)’ was launched
06 June 2023
- In the Republic of Moldova, a quarter of people living with HIV felt stigmatised and discriminated against because of their HIV positive status. Verbal and physical abuse, denial of employment and blackmail are the most common forms of discrimination against HIV-positive people. Women living with HIV are more exposed to stigma and discrimination than HIV-positive men.
The data, collected in Chișinău, Bălți, Cahul, Tiraspol and Râbnița during 2022, are contained in the third Stigma Index survey, conducted by UNAIDS Moldova in collaboration with the League of People Living with HIV, with financial support from Sweden and presented at a public event on 18 May 2023.
The research addresses the experience of people living with HIV of stigma and discrimination related to meeting basic needs, observance of rights to HIV testing, care and treatment, disclosure and confidentiality, sexual and reproductive health and the support they need.
According to the report, because of internalised stigma, 1 in 10 HIV-positive men and women no longer apply for a job or go to hospital when they need to, and every 10th woman living with HIV is advised to terminate her pregnancy. Most often, people with HIV have been advised by health workers not to conceive children because of their status.
‘Today HIV is no longer a sentence. Advanced HIV testing, diagnosis and treatment technologies are available in the Republic of Moldova that can ensure a quality life for people living with HIV. However, very many people do not access these services. One of the most serious obstacles is the high level of stigma and discrimination against these people. UNAIDS urges and encourages the creation of policies and implementation mechanisms that leave no one behind when it comes to accessing services and realizing rights. Let's not forget that human rights are for everyone,’ said Svetlana Plămădeală, UNAIDS Moldova Country Director, at the launch event.
Ludmila Untură, representative of the League of People Living with HIV says: ‘Self-stigma among people living with HIV can be a significant obstacle to accessing appropriate care and support. Measuring stigma and discrimination is very important because it provides insight into the obstacles to accessing services, provides data for advocacy to improve HIV diagnosis, treatment and support policies. And this is imperative for effective epidemic control.’
The confidentiality of personal data is not always observed. Thus, in 2 out of 10 people, HIV status was disclosed without their consent, and every 3rd person living with HIV had a negative experience at the time of disclosure of HIV positive status.
The survey results show that more than half of people living with HIV were tested on their own initiative, and two in 10 HIV-positive people were tested without their knowledge. Because of fear of discrimination and stigma, 7 out of 10 HIV-positive people have taken half a year to decide to get an HIV test, and some do not seek medical help.
Every fifth person living with HIV in the Republic of Moldova is unable to meet their basic needs. 8 out of 10 men and women living with HIV continue to keep their status a secret feeling ashamed or guilty about being HIV positive, and two out of 10 HIV positive people say they feel dirty about their positive status.
The authors of the survey are confident that the findings will help improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. In this context, recommendations were made to ensure the right to equality and legal protection in order to improve the situation among vulnerable groups and their access to services. These include:
1. Raising awareness and sensitisation against HIV stigma and discrimination, combating verbal abuse, discriminatory remarks and inadvertent disclosure.
2. Training, empowering and guiding key populations living with HIV on the right and ways to seek protection and justice when their rights are violated.
3. Ongoing training of health workers and training on confidentiality measures and non-discrimination of people living with HIV.
4. Strengthening protection programs for victims of domestic violence and expanding them for women living with HIV and from key groups, as they are most often physically, sexually or psychologically abused.
5. Ongoing training and adaptation of sexual and reproductive health services to provide friendly services, including to women living with HIV and families where one partner is living with HIV, at all stages.
6. Working together with institutions responsible for implementing laws and policies to protect the rights of people living with HIV.
Please note that 21 May 2023 marks the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, which provides an additional opportunity to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS, increase tolerance towards people living with HIV and key populations and reduce discrimination.
For more information: Ludmila Bogheanu, Project Coordinator, UNAIDS Moldova. Telephone: 069403016