Stigma and discrimination against PLHIV still exist in private and public spheres and can have a major impact on the well-being of PLHIV! Evidence is provided by the 66 cases of stigma and discrimination, reported by RRP+ members within a timeframe of 3 months.

With the support of GIZ, RRP+ organized a press conference on the Zero Discrimination Day (1st of March, 2018) at MARASA Umubano Hotel with key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health, Rwanda Biomedical Center, UNAIDS, WHO, UNWOMEN, national NGOs and journalists representing several media outlets. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness about the persistence of stigma against PLHIV and to call for increased engagement to reduce stigma and discrimination.

The analysis of the reported stigma cases throws some light on the nature of stigma and discrimination PLHIV are experiencing. The majority of the cases report about stigma and discrimination in the private context. PLHIV are discriminated by neighbors, relatives and even close family members like parents, husbands and wives.

However, PLHIV are also stigmatized in public settings. Several cases provide proof of stigma at school (by other students), reported by young women between 15 and 24 years old living with HIV. Other cases report about stigmatization in shops, during public gatherings, in churches, by assurance companies during the process of loan requests and by some village leaders.

These cases first of all show that more needs to be done to fight stigma and discrimination as it persists in private and public spheres at community level.  Secondly, it reveals that continuous documentation of stigma cases is needed to provide evidence of stigma and discrimination and to deepen our understanding of the nature of discrimination faced by PLHIV of different age, marital status and social classes. Finally, this initial exercise calls for a large scale stigma index survey that is capable of showing the scope of discrimination at national level.  Only with a full picture of the nature and scope of discrimination against PLHIV, government and civil society will be able to develop effective interventions to fight HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

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