Health and Wellness

Most straight Americans would be uncomfortable with an HIV+ doctor

A doctor giving a patient an injection
Photo: Shutterstock

According to a new GLAAD survey, a majority of straight American adults (53%) would not be comfortable with a doctor living with HIV.

The organization released its 2021 State of HIV Stigma Study this week, which was an online survey conducted in January with over 2500 American adults, and it showed that HIV stigma is still prevalent in the U.S.

Related: Gilead warns that counterfeit versions of its HIV meds are being found in U.S. pharmacies

GLAAD asked about two other professions – teachers and hair stylists – and found that non-LGBTQ people were said that they wouldn’t be comfortable around them if they knew they were living with HIV. Forty-four percent of the respondents said they would be uncomfortable around a stylist living with HIV and 35% said the same about a teacher living with HIV.

The stigma was higher in the Midwest and the South (54% of people in each region said they wouldn’t be comfortable with a doctor living with HIV) compared to the northeast and the west (45% of people in each region said the same).

Like last year, about half (48%) of people who participated in the survey said they felt knowledgeable about HIV.

GLAAD also asked them two basic questions to test that knowledge, and 64% of people said it’s true that medications like PrEP can protect against HIV transmission while only 42% of people said it’s true that people living with HIV can’t transmit the virus if they are taking proper medication.

HIV’s “spread is fueled and complicated by misinformation and lack of information about the remarkable progress science and medicine have made to make HIV not only preventable, but when treated properly, untransmittable,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

Transinclusive Group Executive Director Tatiana Williams said that part of the issue is fear.

“People still see HIV and AIDS as a death sentence,” she said. “We have to normalize the conversation surrounding HIV, and how HIV impacts the entire community, not just certain communities and/or sub-groups.”

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