HIV: Stigma, Misconceptions and Complacency Remain Critical Barriers to Stopping the Virus

Results from a new, large-scale, Europe-wide survey of over 24,000 people in 12 countries demonstrate that, despite significant progress over almost four decades, HIV-related stigma persists as a major challenge for people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Successful HIV treatment and management that yields an undetectable level of HIV in the blood (viral suppression) means that the virus is virtually untransmittable from HIV-positive to -negative sexual partners (the premise of the Undetectable=Untransmitable [U=U] message). However:

  • Only around one in 10 respondents (12%) understood the meaning of ‘undetectable,’ with approximately one third believing that being undetectable means that you can still transmit HIV to someone else

  • More than half (53%) of respondents believed that it would still be possible to transmit HIV to others, even if the treatment was having the best effect possible (viral suppression)

  • Only approximately half (47%) of respondents were aware that it is possible for women living with HIV who are undetectable to conceive HIV negative children