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United Kingdom: Over 50 Percent of Scots Don't Know All the Ways HIV Can Be Transmitted

November 15, 2013

This article was reported by the The Mirror (London).

The Mirror reported that a new study showed that stigma and untrue myths about HIV still exist in Scotland. The study, conducted by YouGov and released by Scottish HIV service organization Waverley Care, found more than one-fourth of Scots did not know that an HIV-positive person can live 20 or more years after diagnosis, or that an HIV-positive woman can give birth to an HIV-negative baby.

Annie Lennox, a famed British pop star, has joined Waverley Care's new campaign "Always Hear" to promote HIV awareness and education. "Stigma is one of the biggest challenges facing the diagnosis and treatment of HIV in Scotland and around the world today. HIV stigma fuels people's fear to test, which in turn leads to new infections as people don't know whether they have HIV or not," Lennox said.

The online study surveyed 1,083 adults and found that more than 50 percent of Scots did not know all the facts about HIV transmission and that 11 percent thought the disease could be spread by kissing. Two percent thought it could be transmitted by touching a public toilet seat. Conversely, the study found that 87 percent of Scotland residents have empathy for HIV-positive persons and 74 percent believe there needs to be more education to combat stigma and prejudice against HIV.

"It's hugely positive to see that the majority of Scots have supportive attitudes towards people living with HIV, and feel that more needs to be done to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that prevails in our society," said Grant Sugden, chief executive of Waverley Care. Sugden added that because nearly 6,000 Scots are HIV-positive, the Always Hear campaign, which is funded by the Scottish government, hopes to eradicate the fear of testing and living with the disease. "We hope these new findings today, and Annie's support make the public think about their own attitudes so that we can move closer to achieving a Scottish society free from HIV stigma," Sugden said.

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