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Many HIV-Positive Patients Still Fear Stigma

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    Many HIV-Positive Patients Still Fear Stigma - 25-Sep-2008
    Results from the AIDS Treatment for Life International Survey (ATLIS), which polled nearly 3,000 HIV-positive patients from New Zealand and 17 other countries, show many people living with HIV and AIDS still live in fear of the societal stigma that surrounds the disease. In addition, many are so concerned about medicine side effects, they have chosen to stop their treatment.

    The survey interviewed 101 HIV positive people in New Zealand. Results showed many respondents were concerned about people knowing that they have HIV or AIDS, primarily because they fear social discrimination and stigma.

    Respondents were most likely to tell their friends that they have HIV or AIDS, but believed their parents were the most difficult individuals to reveal their condition to.

    The global results revealed concerns such as losing family and friends (41 percent), the impact on their ability to establish future relationships (37 percent), the risk of losing their job (36 percent) and the impact on their reputation (36 percent). Asia Pacific respondents were more concerned about the risk of losing family and friends, as well as the potential impact on their current relationships.

    HIV and AIDS Management and Treatment in New Zealand

    More than seven out of ten respondents in New Zealand are currently taking prescription medications for HIV or AIDS and more than one out of five people have had HIV treatment resistance. This is when the virus becomes resistant to a particular medication, meaning that medication is no longer effective for that patient.

    A third of people living with HIV and taking medication feel that their HIV or AIDS medication has a negative impact on their quality of life and they wish they knew more about HIV or AIDS and its treatments.

    People living with HIV are willing to take medication over a long period of time to prevent long-term health risks and their greatest hope for future HIV and AIDS medications is that the medications will allow them to live longer.

    Treatment Advances Applauded But Side Effects Remain a Significant Challenge Overall, 26 percent of the global respondents reported that they had elected not to seek treatment, because they believe that antiretroviral therapy (ART- the medications that keep the HIV virus from replicating) causes too many side effects.

    Merck Sharp & Dohme Managing Director, Alister Brown, says "When the HIV and AIDS pandemic began in the early 1980s, the goal of education was to give people hope and the goal of treatment was to prolong life. Despite the incredible strides we have made, what this study shows is that some people are rejecting life-saving treatments, because they fear the side effects of the medications that could potentially save their lives, while others on treatment have unnecessarily resigned themselves to live with side effects and poor tolerability in an age where less toxic treatment options are available. Patients can and should now expect more from their HIV treatment."

    ATLIS found that more than half of all respondents worried that their medications will cause one or more of the following: face or body shape changes (58 percent), gastrointestinal problems (54 percent), fatigue or anemia (54 percent) and liver disease (54 percent).

    The Face of HIV Has Dramatically Changed The ATLIS findings show that nearly half of those patients surveyed (48 percent) reported being in a heterosexual relationship, reinforcing that HIV is reaching broader populations.
    Ref: - Merck Sharp and Dohme NZ - AIDS Treatment for Life International Survey

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