"On any ranked list of stigmatized conditions, HIV would have to lie towards the top," but the "actual evidence base" to prove a direct link between HIV-related stigma and the pandemic "is almost nonexistent," Daniel Reidpath of Brunel University's Centre for Public Health Research and Kit Yee Chan of Deakin University's School of Health and Social Development write in a PLoS Medicine essay. Blaming stigma for fueling the HIV/AIDS pandemic "gives too much weight to individual behavioral change as the answer to HIV prevention," Reidpath and Yee Chan write, adding that it also "neglects the more difficult issues" associated with how "HIV spreads in populations, the social vulnerabilities it exploits and the ways in which individuals within subpopulations interact with each other and with members of other subpopulations." The authors add that there are some "core scientific issues" that need to be resolved if the question of the link between HIV stigma and the HIV/AIDS pandemic is to be determined. "Whether HIV stigma is one of the greatest barriers to the global control of the epidemic remains a hypothesis," the authors write, concluding, "The scientific investigation of it demands significant effort, and should be a matter of priority" (Reidpath/Yee Chan, PLoS Medicine, October 2006).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.