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Zero HIV Stigma
The Touch of Hope Foundation has been fighting Stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. The Zero HIV Stigma Initiative of THF is working with national and international groups will help reduce, removed and bring HIV related stigma to Zero.

The Touch of Hope Foundation has been fighting Stigma associated with HIVAIDS, marginalized vulnerable groups such as IDUS, Sex Workers, Migrants and Refugees since early 1990s and continue its battle as vigorously and passionately till today. Without defeating Stigma there can be no end to AIDS. THF through its various projects, initiatives tackle stigma and discrimination creatively and innovatively. The Foundation aggressively works towards ‘Zero Stigma’. The Touch of Hope Foundation participated at the Third International Conference on Stigma on November 30, 2012, organized by Howard University and the Coalition for the Elimination of AIDS-related Stigma (CEAS) held at the Howard University Blackburn Center Washington DC, USA. 

Stigma is a degrading and debasing attitude of the society that discredits a person or a group because of an attribute such as an illness, deformity, color, nationality, religion etc. The resulting coping behavior of affected person results in internalized stigma. This perceived or internalized stigma by the discredited person is equally destructive whether or not actual discrimination occurs. Stigma destroys a person’s dignity; marginalizes affected individuals; violates basic human rights; markedly diminishes the chances of a stigmatized person of achieving full potential; and seriously hampers pursuit of happiness and contentment. When stigma is associated with a medical condition or disability it prevents individuals from seeking evaluation and treatment, disclosing the diagnosis to the people most likely to provide support and in following treatment guidelines. While there are many illnesses such as leprosy that have been severely stigmatized in the past, it is generally agreed that HIVAIDS is the most stigmatized medical condition in the history of mankind. While society elevates the status of those receiving treatment for some conditions such as cancer or serious injuries as heroes, those who have acquired HIV are subjected to layers upon layers of stigma with assumptions that these individuals are deserving of punishment for their “assumed behavior that led them to get HIV” and they are often shunned. Stigma prevents individuals from getting tested for HIV, seeking medical care, disclosing diagnosis and in adhering to treatment and follow up. Fear of social abandonment and losing intimate partners prevents many with HIV from sharing the diagnosis with their loved ones and sexual partners. Stigma has become a major reason why HIV epidemic continues and millions of people are getting infected and dying with HIV every year. (Coalition for the Elimination of AIDS-related Stigma - CEAS)

The Touch of Hope Foundation ‘Zero Stigma’ initiative urges you to be a part of CAES - Coalition for Elimination of AIDS-related Stigma (CEAS), Washington, DC based at Howard University, is a group of professionals, community leaders, concerned individuals and organizations that have come together to focus efforts to diminish and eliminate the stigma associated with HIV. Stigma prevents citizens from getting tested for HIV, seeking medical care, and disclosing diagnosis to loved ones and adhering to treatment and follow up. Stigma has become a major reason why the HIV epidemic continues and millions of people are getting infected and dying with HIV every year. The Coalition plans to measure the burden of stigma, test the effectiveness of intervention mechanisms, implement appropriate strategies and determine their effect over time.

The fights against the HIV epidemic must not slow down but continue relentlessly. Those negative must remain negative and those positive must live a positive life adhering to medications and change lifestyle. We must step up the fight to eradicate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. As a team, we need a concerted effort working as a team to bring down infection rates, increase compassion to those living with HIV and surging ahead in our endeavor to achieve Zero Stigma and contain the epidemic of HIV.