Negative stereotypes of people with HIV/AIDS remain strong in Taiwan

06/15/2020 10:08 PM
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Hung Chien-ching (second left), head of the Taiwan AIDS Society, holds a signs saying “Undetectable equals untransmittable,” while Zhuang Ping (right), who heads the Taiwan AIDS Nurses Association, calls for equality for all patients.
Hung Chien-ching (second left), head of the Taiwan AIDS Society, holds a signs saying “Undetectable equals untransmittable,” while Zhuang Ping (right), who heads the Taiwan AIDS Nurses Association, calls for equality for all patients.

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Over 50 percent of people in Taiwan hold negative impressions of people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS, according to the results of a survey on HIV/AIDS released Monday.

The survey found 40 percent of respondents have false or negative ideas about people with HIV, such as the belief they contracted the virus due to sexual promiscuity or because they are LGBT, Zhuang Ping (莊苹), the head of the Taiwan AIDS Nurses Association, said at a news conference to release the survey.

The survey also showed that 46 percent of the respondents thought of the disease as a "black death" (incurable disease) in the 21st century, while 5 percent believed it to be a dirty sexually transmitted disease.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of respondents thought they were knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, and most believed they were not at risk of contracting the virus and had never thought of getting an HIV test or did not know how to get tested, the survey found.

It also found that 70 percent of respondents did not know they could take HIV medicine daily to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they were exposed to the virus.

According to the survey, fewer than 50 percent of respondents thought that people with HIV should not feel ashamed of themselves, and 45 percent of those polled did not agree that people with HIV should receive equitable and friendly treatment.

The unfriendly attitude toward people with HIV/AIDS can be detrimental to preventing and controlling the disease, said Zhuang, who urged people to support those who are HIV-positive.

If HIV patients receive antiretroviral therapy and maintain an undetectable viral load of less than 200 copies/mL for more than six months, then they will be not infectious, according to Hung Chien-ching (洪健清), head of the Taiwan AIDS Society.

Taiwan should promote the concept "undetectable equals untransmittable," a scientific consensus that people living with HIV who are taking effective antiretroviral therapy and have undetectable levels of the virus will not transmit HIV sexually, Hung said.

The online survey was conducted through questionnaires between May 21 and May 29 among 500 men and 500 women aged 18-50.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao)

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