New online tool supports people living with HIV to tackle stigma

NAT (National AIDS Trust) has partnered with digital social enterprise, Reason Digital, to create a ground-breaking online tool to support people living with HIV, to talk to and inform other people and tackle stigma.

Looped in offers people living with HIV in the UK a range of trusted content developed for different audiences – from people living with HIV, to friends, sexual partners, family and medical professionals.

Looped in allows people living with HIV to select the content they want to share and send it to who they want to.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said:

“NAT is known for defending the rights of people living with HIV by creating policy change but trying to fight stigma is a more complex challenge.

“We know misinformation about HIV makes things hard for those with the virus, and even those who are most comfortable talking about HIV can find it difficult to challenge misconceptions sometimes. We also know that people living with HIV are the strongest advocates against stigma and that talking about HIV can be hugely empowering. Looped in will empower and enable conversations about HIV. Giving people a customisable, convenient and evolving way to educate others is part of how we aim to spread understanding.

“Developing this unique tool has been really exciting and I can’t wait to see how it is used in the real world and build on what it can do.”

Matt Haworth, the Co-founder of Reason Digital, a digital social enterprise, said:

Looped in is a uniquely empathetic and informative platform. It’s been designed to break down the social bias and myths surrounding the perceptions of people living with HIV and is designed to be inspiring for a range of audiences.

“The UK is medically advanced when treating HIV, however, there is still a real social bias around the subject. Media headlines are often very negative and sensational, Looped in will contradict that and offer factual responses to medical and social questions.”

LeaSuwanna, a woman living with HIV from London said:

“Living with HIV has not been a big deal for me. You try to stay healthy and take your medication, so you can’t pass on the virus. However, when I’ve said I have HIV, I’ve been asked if I am going to die, or if I have AIDS. People’s HIV awareness hasn’t improved as much as the treatment has. For people with the virus, explaining the same facts to people all the time can be tiring, intimidating or difficult.”

Sue Wicks, Head of Investments at Comic Relief who funded this project, said:

“We are incredibly excited about the launch of Looped in which will make a real difference to the quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS.

“Our partnership with M∙A∙C AIDS Fund supports organisations that are using innovative digital approaches to increase prevention, care and access to treatment. This is a brilliant example of just that and will also help challenge the stigma around HIV and AIDS that so often prevents people from getting the vital support they need.”

In 2017 in the UK it’s estimated there are 101,600 people living with HIV and 92% of these people are diagnosed – this still means that around 1 in 12 people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have the virus. 98% of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK are on treatment. 97% of those on treatment are virally suppressed, which means they can’t pass the virus on. Of all the people living with HIV in the UK (diagnosed and undiagnosed), 87% are virally suppressed.

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