HIV / AIDS and public stereotypes

Today the whole world celebrates the International day of fight against AIDS. In 1988, World Health Organization declared December 1 to be the International day of fight against AIDS.

This day is celebrated in many countries in order to draw people’s attention to this issue, to express solidarity to HIV infected people and to increase the efforts to combat the disease.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is an infectious disease, and its final treatment is not possible yet. The first cases of the disease have been recorded in the United States, Sweden, Tanzania and Haiti already in the late 1970s. On June 5, 1981, the US Center for Disease Control has registered a new disease – AIDS. Today there are more than 35 million 15-49 years old people infected with HIV in the world.

From the first day of spreading of the disease, public started to identify the disease and homosexuality. Moreover, doctors wanted to name the illness “Immunodeficiency connected to homosexuality”.  However, shortly after, it became clear that the virus is not conditioned by sexual orientation.

When AIDS was firstly identified, it was defined as an urban gay disease.

Of course, it’s not homosexuals that are at risk group for HIV infection, but those who are having unprotected sex. This difference between identity and behavior is very important to understand the spread of the disease. And because the media and the public generally do not put this difference, people’s perceptions of LGBTI persons and AIDS have become identical. During the initial period of HIV/AIDS spread, men having sex with men often became the victim of oppression, as they were perceived as responsible ones for the spread of infection. The homophobic coverage of the Media promoted the affirmation of this opinion.

In many countries, stigma and discrimination are major obstacles to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care among LGBT people. This means that some people are carriers of HIV and do not know or learn about it in very late stages of the infection. That is, homophobia is a serious obstacle for HIV / AIDS prevention among LGBTI people.

According to the data of the RA National Center for AIDS Prevention of Ministry of Health, from 1988 to October 31, 2016, among RA citizens 2482 HIV cases were reported. The distribution of HIV cases registered in Armenia by means of transmission is as follows: through heterosexual transmission – 66 percent, through injecting drug use – 25 percent, through homosexual transmission – 2, 8 percent, from mother to child – 1.6 percent, through blood 0,2 percent, unknown – 4, 4 percent.