Avert's 2017-21 strategy sets out four priority responses for us. Response 4 is to challenge stigma and other barriers. The result of this work is that knowledgeable people are challenging barriers and changing norms.
We believe that making a noise about things that are important can influence change. We also believe that knowledgeable people are the best way to challenge barriers and change norms.
Our work with NGO partners has built in stigma reduction across their programmes. For example in Lesotho a ‘Mothers and daughters, Fathers and sons’ activity has brought the generations together to talk about HIV and sexual health and break down stereotypes, misinformation and stigma.
We are really unconnected with our mothers and this really increases our chances of being involved in activities that put our health at risk.
- 17-year old girl, during mother and daughter camp
As mothers we only recognize the importance of communication with our daughters after they get pregnant. It is then that many of us start thinking that we could have done better by communicating issues of sex and sexuality, yet at that point it is too late.
- 40-year old mother, during mother and daughter camp
We shared evidence and learning from our work, using our involvement in civil society networks to spread the word. And we used our global digital footprint to provide people the information they need to overcome their fears and to challenge the stigma and misunderstanding they find in their communities.
For example, our digital campaign, Stand Up to HIV, highlighted the impact stigma can have on your health and empowered people to test for HIV. The campaign’s animation ‘Why am I so scared of HIV?’ reached over 14,000 people.
Our webpage called ‘I’m worried about HIV and AIDS’ encourages people to think about why they are scared of HIV and how to overcome their fears. Since launch it has been read by over 257,000 people.
And through our Facebook channel we’ve engaged daily with thousands of young people, listening and responding to their concerns, and encouraging the community to discuss and challenge harmful attitudes and norms.
Photo credit: ©Marco Fieber. Images used on this site are for illustrative purposes only. They do not imply any health status or behaviour on the part of the people in the photo.