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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Scots still fear people with HIV

This news post is about 6 years old

One in five Scots still believe they can catch HIV from kissing

Scots don’t want to start a relationship with someone with HIV because they are unaware of medical breakthroughs that stop people passing the illness onto their partners.

Misconceptions about the disease continue to be widespread with one in five Scots believing HIV can be passed on from kissing, new research from HIV Scotland has found.

Only a quarter of Scots say they would be comfortable starting a relationship with someone living with HIV, and one in 20 Scots believe they can catch HIV from sharing a glass, cup or cutlery.

Only 17% of people are aware of PrEP, a pill you can take daily that prevents HIV transmission and jst 14% of people were aware that people living with HIV taking effective treatment cannot pass it on to their sexual partners.

Revealing the extent of public misunderstandings of HIV, the charity said there needs to be a coordinated approach to tackling stigma.

HIV disproportionately affects some of the most stigmatised groups in society, including gay and bisexual men, trans-people, the African community, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

Niamh, a trans-woman living with HIV in Glasgow, said: "As a person living with HIV, the stigma I've experienced is grounded in myths and untruths. As a result I've given up dating as it's simply too much to bear. I don't believe we should live in a society where people like me find it too difficult to date because of the misinformation that exists.

"Stigma in all its forms, from media to health professionals to the person on the street comes from a lack of knowledge and education. The need for this to change is long overdue."

HIV Scotland have said that success towards eliminating HIV-related stigma requires efforts to educate and inform the general public, whilst empowering, mobilising and engaging with people living with and at risk of HIV to ensure their voice can be heard.

George Valiotis, chief executive of HIV Scotland, said: "It is dangerous that myths and out-dated information remain so widespread. Their prevalence misleads and misinforms people of the 21st century reality of HIV, and devastates relationships and lives.

"It is time that everyone knows that HIV cannot be passed on via saliva, kissing or sharing cutlery.”

HIV Scotland has produced a national strategy, The Road Map to Zero, which sets out the approach needed to tackle the myths surrounding HIV, which includes action on education in schools.