Home is Where the Least Expensive Rent Is: Exploring the Renter’s Market in Santa Cruz

14 November 2016

Devon Schoos

One of the many services SCAP offers our clients is assistance finding affordable housing in Santa Cruz county. But as one of the top five least affordable cities for renters in the entire country, the Santa Cruz renter’s market is unforgiving, especially for the county’s many low income residents. According to a National Low Income Housing Coalition report appropriately named “Out of Reach 2015”, the average tenant in Santa Cruz has to make $33.77 an hour to rent a two bedroom apartment, which is more than three times the county’s $10 minimum wage. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests paying no more than 30% of one’s income on housing, but because of the disparity between average income and average rent in Santa Cruz county, renters are paying much more than this. In fact, according to a Zillow study published in the Wall Street Journal, the city of Santa Cruz boasts the highest rents in proportion to salaries in the nation. The median home rents for about 9.4 times the median income, which results in roughly 70% of renters in Santa Cruz paying more than the suggested 30% of their income on rent.

And Santa Cruz residents are speaking out. Concerned residents have been organizing community meetings and hearings about the broken housing market over the last few years. In fall of 2015, two sociology professors at UC Santa Cruz launched a multi-method research project aimed at researching and representing the affordable housing crisis, with a specific emphasis on renters given that 57% of Santa Cruz residents are renters and are among the hardest hit by the critical situation. The project, called No Place Like Home, explores four main topics:  1.) rent burden, 2.) overcrowding, 3.) evictions/forced moves, and 4.) experiences with major problems.

Phase 1 of the project took place between April and June of 2016. 435 renters in Beach Flats neighborhood, Lower Ocean Avenue, and Lower Pacific Avenue were surveyed because these areas have high renter populations, are categorized as low income neighborhoods, and have high Latino populations. Of the 435 renters surveyed, 57% made less than $30,000, 51% were Latino, and 56% of the households had children. These populations experience marginalization and are often invisible populations because they are less likely to respond to census or telephone surveys, leading to an under representation in research. And that is what makes No Place Like Home such a critical project- it exposes the plights of difficult to reach populations and sheds light on what many Santa Cruz residents experience as their daily reality.

Santa Cruz County is the least affordable county in California and the results of the survey expose the consequences of that title. 73% of renters in the surveyed neighborhoods experienced rent burden, meaning they spend more than the recommended 30% of their gross income on rent. 32% experienced overcrowding, which was defined as having more than one person per room. One student researcher reported seeing this in extreme ways such as makeshift beds being placed in kitchens. 45% of the renters experienced a forced move within the past five years, which could be anything from no longer being able to afford high rent to having to move due to unsafe conditions that weren’t being resolved by landlords. And lastly, 63% of survey respondents experienced “other major problems” including condition of building, maintenance, safety of neighborhood, security of building, and noise from neighbors. When broken down by income, race, and the presence of children, the research shows that low income renters, Latinos, and households with children are in general more heavily affected by these issues, further showing that more attention needs to be given to their situations.

And that is just what the UCSC sociologists plan to do. Phase 2 of the project will take place in Live Oak in January of 2017 and Phase 3 will focus on Watsonville beginning April 2017. For now, the project’s highly informative, bilingual website offers a page of local, state, and national resources for people experiencing housing problems and can be found at http://www.noplacelikehomeucsc.org/. This is an issue that is of high priority for SCAP, as many of our clients are among those in Santa Cruz fighting for fair housing. We understand that safe and affordable housing has broader implications for health and well being. We are proud to be a housing resource for our clients and we hope that research such as No Place Like Home will bring much needed attention to housing issues in Santa Cruz county.


De Witte, Melissa. “Community Gathers to Strengthen Public Dialogue about Santa Cruz’s Housing Crises.” UC Santa Cruz News. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Greenberg, Miriam, and Steve McKay. “No Place Like Home.” No Place Like Home. University of California Santa Cruz, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Gumz, Jondi. “Santa Cruz County: Fifth Most Expensive Metro in US for Renters.” Santa Cruz Sentinel. N.p., 20 May 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.



There are real stories from real people about their unique experiences dealing with HIV/AIDS.  Jennifer Vaughan was recently diagnosed with HIV positive. Despite going through so much pain, she was brave enough to document her experience and share it with the public. She wants to inform everyone that it is crucial that everyone gets tested as soon as possible and that the disease does not define you. Please feel free to watch these 3 videos to help you fully understand the effects of HIV.



Needle Exchange Programs in Santa Cruz and Watsonville


By Justine Dewey

Syringe exchange programs provide people with clean needles for drug injection, which reduces their risk of transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C. Our office provides safer works packets, which include cottons, bleach, water, antiseptic wipes, and cookers, but unfortunately we are not able to provide clean needles. Here is a list of locations in Santa Cruz and Watsonville that do provide clean needles.

Santa Cruz County Syringe Services (2 locations):

These locations have a one-to-one policy with a maximum of 100 needles. They strongly encourage that people bring in their used needles, but they will still give out clean needles if a used needle is not brought in.

  • 1080 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Hours of Operation
Monday: 8am – 12pm
Tuesday: 5pm – 7pm
Friday: 8am – 12pm

  • 1430 Freedom Blvd. Suite D, Watsonville, CA 95076

Hours of Operation
Monday: 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Tuesday: 9:30am – 11:30am and 5:30pm – 6:30 pm
Wednesday: 9:30am – 11:30am and 5:30pm – 6:30 pm
Thursday: 5:30pm – 6:30 pm

This information was written on August 11th, 2016, but may not stay updated in the future. For more information and updates to hours of operation and policies, call 831.454.2437 or visit their website:  http://www.santacruzhealth.org/HSAHome/HSADivisions/PublicHealth/SyringeServicesProgram.aspx.

There are also pharmacies in the area that sell syringes:

  • Rite Aid will sell 10 syringes without an Rx:

901 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 426 4303

  • Westside Pharmacy will sell 10 Syringes without an Rx:

1401 Mission Street, Santa Cruz (831) 423 7174

  • Watsonville Pharmacy will sell 100 syringes without an Rx:

1433 Freedom Blvd, Watsonville (831) 728 1818


What SCAP Really Stands For

By Saloni Gupta

July 8, 2016

My name is Saloni Gupta and I am a senior at UCSC. I especially became aware of the importance of discussing and educating people about sexuality during my last trip to India. In India, as in most countries, sex is extremely taboo. Sexuality before marriage is suppressed so much, in fact, that the incidences of rape are extremely high with an overwhelmingly 99% of them unreported. People are ashamed to talk about sex, but reproduction is an innate quality of all living things that simply cannot be suppressed healthily. In the Indian lower class, it is common for women to get married in their mid-teens. Many of these uneducated women do not know anything about sex until their wedding night–forget knowing about contraceptives, STIs, or consent. I feel very fortunate to live in a country where sexuality is discussed so openly. This openness is imperative. After all, it is the best way to encourage safe, consensual sex and get people appropriate STI treatments. When you don’t talk about sex, there is no way for people to know about the associated risks. I joined SCAP in January of 2016 because I wanted to be a part of the amazing education SCAP offers to the Santa Cruz County. This education has a tremendous positive impact; probably more than we realize.

I grew up learning the art of mindfulness. Recently, more and more research is being done on the effects of meditation and stress-relief on our bodies, even down to the DNA level. I cannot imagine that living with HIV is easy, especially due to the stigma that still exists. At SCAP, I offer mindfulness classes to clients once a week. During the class, we start by setting a goal for our practice, whether it be relieving stress due to a particular event, wanting to boost energy, or wanting to build focus. We work on achieving this goal through breathing, stretching, and increasing awareness about our five senses and the environment around us. The goal of my classes is to help clients become aware of what may be stressing them (finance, health, other people), let them temporarily forget these stress factors, help them reach a state of relaxation, and aid them in observing this relaxed state. As clients continue to practice, it should become easier for them to relax and relieve stress permanently in their daily lives.

SCAP has given me the opportunity to spread what I know about mindfulness to other people. SCAP doesn’t just stand for the “Santa Cruz AIDS Project”. To me, it also stands for Such a Caring, Altruistic Place. Through their client services, educational presentations, and outreach events, SCAP really cares for the Santa Cruz community as a whole. All of SCAP’s employees and volunteers are so kind, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by people like them. Thank you, SCAP, for the opportunity to join your noble mission and for all you do!   

What you need to know about HIV/AIDS

By Marissa Arzate


What if a ketchup package could save the life of a child? In developing countries, where 33% of infants are born to HIV seropostive mothers, studies show that administering anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) within 24 hours of birth can prevent transmission (1). Unfortunately, it is difficult to deliver these drugs outside a hospital setting.

In the summer of 2015 engineering students at Duke University created the Pratt Pouch, a pre-measured dose of ARVs in a squeeze package similar to the ketchup pouches at fast food restaurants. Clinical trials were implemented in Ecuador, a country with a high rate of at-home births, and results showed that the pouches were effective in preventing transmission.

Yet too many families in Ecuador don’t obtain the ARVs because they are unaware that they are even at risk of HIV. The history of HIV and AIDS is riddled with examples of misinformation, denial, and social stigma, but nowhere is this more prevalent than Ecuador. Even today, 35 years after the discovery of the virus and the beginning of a pandemic, 40% of people in Ecuador believe that AIDS is transmitted by mosquitoes (1). This is a level of misinformation that must be addressed.

I. History and Origin

A mysterious virus, possibly contracted from chimpanzees baffled people from the start. After years of research, studies identified the origins of HIV in the ‘Pan troglodytes troglodytes’ chimpanzee of Central Africa (2). This species of chimpanzees carries a virus identified as simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV cpz ), while the human species carries human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). If this virus stems from two different species, how was this virus successfully transmitted? Studies reveal that HIV was transmitted from apes to the human species hundreds of years ago. This cross-species transmission was successfully spread to the human species through exposed cutaneous or mucous membranes coming into contact with infected ape blood or ape bodily fluids (3).

There are two forms of HIV that infect humans, HIV-1 and HIV-2, although the focus in this paper will be HIV-1. There are four groups of this specific virus: M, N, O, and P, which have each independently been transmitted from the chimpanzee to the human species (3). Through time and evolution, the M group of HIV-1 has been identified as the ‘pandemic’ strain due to its prevalence among 69 million people around the world (2). The other HIV-1 strains are less prevalent and restricted to smaller communities, with Group O representing less than 1% of global pandemic cases, Group N documented in just 13 cases, and Group P representing only two individuals worldwide (2).

In 1981, HIV-1 surfaced in the United States (4). Five formerly healthy, gay men in Los Angeles, California were reported to have characteristic symptoms of opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (4). In addition to opportunistic infections, these patients suffered from cellular-immune dysfunction and transmission seemed to come from sexual contact (4). After initial reports in Los Angeles, medical cases also appeared in San Francisco and New York with similar patient symptoms (4). Then, cases that did not involve men having sex with men started to appear. In December of 1982, an infant was infected from a blood transfusion with contaminated blood from a man who was later diagnosed with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the last stage of HIV (5). This case of an HIV-infected infant totally altered the public’s understanding of HIV transmission, which had been limited to homosexual contact. As the virus began to spread on a global level so did fear.

Epidemiology of HIV

Transmission of HIV occurs through blood, body fluids, or breast milk. The first mode of transmission was recognized in 1981 when gay men were believed to have contracted HIV through promiscuous sexual activities (7). Today, we now understand that the virus is not only spread in sexual activities between men having sex with men, but the virus is also transmitted between individuals involved in heterosexual activities (7). By 2006 heterosexual transmission accounted for 80% of HIV infections (10). Risks are increased when patients have other sexually transmitted infections, unprotected sex, multiple partners, and anal sex (7).

HIV is also transmitted through infected blood. Before 1985, blood donations were not screened which led to a huge increase of HIV infections among transfusion patients (7). With screening, by1992 transmission via transfusion was eliminated, though patients continue to contract HIV from other blood sources (7). Today about one-third of major AIDS cases have been attributed to direct or indirect intravenous drug abuse (7).

Finally, mother to child transmission can occur during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breast-feeding and this accounts for up to 45% of infections (1). Anti-retroviral therapy within the first24 hours after birth can greatly reduce infections (1).

Global Response

When HIV was first discovered in 1981 in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the nation was unaware of the pandemic ahead. Twenty-five years after the initial discovery of the virus, more than 65 million people have been infected by HIV (13).

This crisis called for a global response, engaging political leaders and resources from every country. The developed countries needed to take the lead and lend support to developing countries (13). Because HIV spread quickly between countries the pandemic became a global crisis and the response needed to transcend politics and focus on the medical emergency at hand. According to Merson, policymakers of this initial global response needed to confront stigmas associated with “sexual behavior, drug use, power relations between the sexes, poverty and death”(13). Addressing these taboos related to HIV resulted in a largely negative response around the world. Eventually, this negative response led to an increase in the stigma, discrimination, and denial of AIDS (13).

The scope of this pandemic was finally realized in 1987 when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Global Program on AIDS (13). This program ignited response, increased support for those living with HIV, raised funds for research, and built awareness of the HIV crisis (13).

Unfortunately, the Global Program on AIDS was not successful among policymakers, which led to the formation of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) (13). Support for UNAIDS was initially very difficult to attain. The threat of destabilized global security, the need for cheaper antiretroviral drugs, and the increase in financial contributions finally led to the collective, grounded support that allowed UNAIDS to succeed (13). These global responses helped to provide a foundation for current efforts to fight against the stigma that the disease still engendered in the world.

The initial reaction was simply silence. In the 1990s throughout sub-Saharan Africa, this silence meant people were not getting tested, not recognizing the risks of promiscuous sexual behaviors, and not educating themselves on prevention (14). This silence on a cultural level meant that information on the virus was not available. Thus, on a public policy level, African political leaders were unaware of the crisis at hand (14). Cultural and religious taboos suppressed open communication about an infection that spread primarily through sexual contact (14). This problem was not limited to Africa, but was mirrored in many countries where taboos limited awareness because sexuality could not be discussed.

Education on Sexual Activity and Reproductive Health in Ecuador

In Ecuador, policy makers attribute HIV transmission solely to homosexuals and sex workers. Deeply-rooted Roman Catholic religious beliefs, taboos about sexuality, low education levels, and lack of government infrastructure in medicine combine to perpetuate this information. Until honest communication is improved, infections will continue to rise.

As confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Population Fund, Ecuadorians generally do not have the information to educate themselves about the reality of HIV and AIDS (15). Adolescents, parents and teachers are universally uninformed about reproductive and sexual health. In a survey produced by a community health clinic, 552 high school students were interviewed about reproductive and sexual health (RSH), family planning, and sexually transmitted infections (15). This study verified that 57% of children and adolescents between the ages of 10-17 are lacking accurate information on the transmission of HIV (15). Many students believed that information on sexual health and reproduction should be provided by parents, yet only about half of these students (48.6%) claimed to have received any information on family planning (15). As seen in figure 5, the main reason children do not discuss their reproductive and sexual health with their parents is due to lack of trust, followed shortly thereafter by embarrassment (15).

fig 5

On the topic of contraceptives, the majority of students (96%) were informed about birth control methods, yet only about 81.5% of these students actually use, or would use, some form of contraceptive (15) When discussing contraceptives, gender played a large role in whether or not a student would use birth control. As shown in figure 6, among the students who claimed they would use contraceptives or a birth control method, condoms were the most common choice (15). The study showed that female students were discouraged from using contraceptives due to fear of side effects or a desire to have children in the future (15). As recently as 1980, the cultural norm in Ecuador resulted in a fertility rate of up to six children per woman. Fertility rates today have dropped to about two children per household, yet among the students interviewed almost a quarter of students wanted three children (15).

fig 1

Fig. 5: Graph explains why children and parents do not discuss reproductive and sexual health in Ecuador (15) Of the students interviewed, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) had been discussed by 17.8% of sexually active teens (17). Of these students, 10% believed oral contraceptives could prevent them from getting STI’s and HIV/AIDs. Additionally, 24.8% assumed HIV/AIDS is actually transmitted through saliva or sweat (17). Clearly with this level of misinformation on HIV infections, transmission rates will continue to increase.

Fig 6: Preferred Contraceptive Method among the 552 teens surveyed in Ecuador (15) This study indicates that many parents are unable to answer their adolescents’ questions about sexual health and reproduction because they themselves do not have accurate information (17). To reassess the way that sexual education is addressed in schools, it would be most beneficial to include parents so adolescents can have open communication about reproductive and sexual health in their home environments. With clarity and confidence, knowledge in these areas can greatly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

HIV/AIDS in Ecuador

In 1984, the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in Ecuador by the Ministry of Public Health (17). The government realized that HIV had spread throughout Africa and the United States, and the pandemic was about to hit Ecuador and the rest of South America. By August of 2006 the HIV pandemic was proclaimed globally (17).

Ecuador is the target focus of this paper because this middle-income country suffers from poverty-driven health problems, low education levels, gender inequality, religious restrictions and discrimination (17). These problems are the driving force behind the spread of HIV/AIDS here.

Lacking financial resources, many patients do not seek regular medical attention. When patients do not get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections like HIV, they are more likely to transmit the infection to other partners. Eventually, not getting tested can lead to more rapid progression into AIDS. If patients begin taking the medication and lose a job or financial support, stopping the medication can result in creating a resistant strain of the virus. This strain could then be transmitted to others. Although HIV testing is essential to reduce these risks of transmission, Ecuador is a country that has limited research and funding for HIV/AIDS. High poverty levels reduce patients’ ability to access expensive medications or to get tested regularly, therefore increasing the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS (17).

Lack of education means people do not fully understand how the disease is transmitted or how it can be prevented. With little to no sexual education in schools, children do not understand how to protect themselves.

fig 7

Fig. 7: Distribution of HIV/AIDS cases by age group in Ecuador, 2009 (17) how to protect themselves.

As seen in figure 7, the age range most affected by HIV is between 20-35 years old (17). If teenagers do not enroll in college after they complete high school then they are encouraged by their culture to start their families, so this is the age when many people are most sexually active. In Ecuador, 99% of infections in this age group are due to sexual activity (17). If education alone could promote condom use, sexual abstinence, and safe sex practices more effectively, these statistics could be greatly reduced (17).

Disclosing HIV serostatus in Ecuador leads to financial constraints, regret, and material instability. One study reports that for 24% of respondents revealing disclosing HIV serostatus claimed that revealing their seropositive status was a mistake (18). Upon disclosure, workers experienced rejection and discrimination in the workplace (18). When men or women face discrimination in the work place, they risk losing their jobs. Often women experienced higher rates of rejection than men. For women, revealing a seropositive status meant facing barriers built by the ongoing stigma of HIV: fear of rejection from their spouses, losing their children, or even facing domestic violence. The stigma attached to HIV can be more damaging then the infection.

HIV seropositive individuals without independent financial support cannot afford anti- retroviral therapy. Financial support from the Ecuadorian government is minimal. As a result, many HIV patients must pay for the first-line treatment regimens out of pocket. For most, this means a prohibitive cost of $673 a year towards viral therapy with no alternative option (19). As a result, when risk of disclosure among HIV positive patients lingers in the workplace an economic crisis can emerge. A cost this large creates moral dilemmas for the family when faced with the decision to pay for their medication or put food on the table.

Mother-to- child transmission is another route of HIV transmission that is elevated due to high at-home birth rates (1). If a child is administered ARV treatment within the first 24 hours of birth, the risk of transmission can be dramatically reduced. Unfortunately, many mothers lack access to pre-dosed anti-retroviral medications for their newborns (1). Though many ARVs are available in clinics and hospitals, women who deliver at home often cannot or will not bring a newborn baby to a clinic right after birth because of the social stigmas that are attached to bringing a potential HIV-infected newborn to the clinic.

One way to overcome this challenge is the Pratt Pouch was invented. After trials in 2015 in Guayaquil, this premeasured liquid dose of anti-retroviral medication proved to be the easiest and most effective way to deliver treatment to HIV-exposed infants (1). Still the problem remains. If mothers are unaware of their seropositive status, they won’t seek treatment. With such high levels of misinformation and such low levels of medical support, women are unlikely to get tested. The stubborn stigmas and cultural resistance compound the problem.

To conquer these challenges, the citizens of Ecuador must work together to improve levels of education and access to information. If people still believe myths about transmission by mosquitoes and kissing, this pandemic will never diminish. Together, political leaders, educators and the entire community must work towards UNAIDS’ vision of creating a country with zero discrimination, zero new infections, and zero deaths.


In conclusion, while scientists continue to learn more about how HIV replicates in the body, there is hope that they can create an effective vaccine against this virus. Until then there are three actions that can reduce transmission: enhancing sexual education among adolescents, parents, and teachers, reducing stigma in the workplace and community settings; and increasing access to support for the HIV patient community. In Ecuador and other developing countries around the world, united progressive actions can begin to make a difference.



1. Choy, Alexa, Mercedes Ortiz, and Robert Malkin. "Accurate Dosing of Antiretrovirals at Home Using a Foilized, Polyethylene Pouch to Prevent the Transmission of HIV From Mother to Child." Medicine. 94.25 (2015): 25. 1-5. Web.

2. Pépin, Jacques. "The Origins of AIDS: From Patient Zero to Ground Zero." The Origins of AIDS: From Patient Zero to Ground Zero. Epidemiol Community Health, June 2013. Web.05 Nov. 2015.

3. Sharp, P. M., and B. H. Hahn. "Origins of HIV and the AIDS Pandemic." Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 1.1 (2011): 1-22. Web.

4. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2001): Vol 50, No.21. 429-456. CDC. CDC, 1 June 2001. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

5. "A Timeline of AIDS." A Timeline of AIDS. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services., 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

6. Lackner, A. A., M. M. Lederman, and B. Rodriguez. "HIV Pathogenesis: The Host." Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 2.9 (2012): 1-23. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.

7. Nester, Eugene W. "HIV Disease and Complications of Immunodeficiency." Microbiology: A Human Perspective. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 747-752. Print.

8. Zúñiga, M. Professor of Immunology, University of California, Santa Cruz. Communicated and HIV Presentation November 13, 2015.

9. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. T Cells and MHC Proteins. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26926/

10. Wu, Li, and Vineet N. Kewalramani. "Dendritic-cell Interactions with HIV: Infection and Viral Dissemination." Nat Rev Immunol Nature Reviews Immunology 6.11 (2006): 859-68.Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

11. Clercq, Erick D. "The History of Antiretrovirals: Key Discoveries over the past 25 Years." Wiley Interscience. Wiley Interscience, 17 June 2009. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

12. Janeway CA Jr, Travers P, Walport M, et al. Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2001. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27126/

13. Merson, Michael H. "The HIV–AIDS Pandemic at 25 — The Global Response." New England Journal of Medicine N Engl J Med 354.23 (2006): 2414-417. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

14. Goliber, Thomas. "Africa’s Political Response to HIV/AIDS." Africa’s Political Response to HIV/AIDS. Public Reference Bureau, July 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2015.

15. Beckwith, Jessica. "McJill Journal of Medicine." Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices in Reproductive and Sexual Health (2006): 119-25. Print.

16. IP, Greg. "2050." Wall Street Journal [New York] 28 November 2015: A10. Print.

17. Cabezas, María C., Fornasini, M., Dardenne, N., Borja, T., Albert, A. “A Cross-sectional Study to Assess Knowledge about HIV/AIDS Transmission and Prevention Measures in Company Workers in Ecuador." BMC Public Health. BMC Public Health, 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

18. Henry, Emilie. ""Was It a Mistake to Tell Others That You Are Infected with HIV?": Factors Associated with Regret Following HIV Disclosure Among People Living with HIV in Five Countries (Mali, Morocco, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador and Romania). Results from a Community-Based Research.” Springer Springer Science+Business Media., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

19. "Public Health Aspects of HIV/AIDS in Low and Middle Income Countries." (2009): World Health Organization, 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

20. Barré-Sinoussi, Françoise, Anna Laura Ross, and Jean-François Delfraissy. "Past, Present and Future: 30 Years of HIV Research." Nature Reviews Microbiology Nat Rev Micro 11.12 (2013): 877-83. Web. 18 November 2015

21. Prado, Daniel. "The Ketchup Sachet-shaped Drug Saving Babies from HIV – BBC News." BBC News. BBC Mundo, 19 July 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

The Epidemic of Fear, Stigmatization, and Discrimination

By Mariati Messinger

Millions of HIV positive individuals around the world face some type of stigma in their lives.  This creates a huge burden on the individual undermining his/her protection against the disease.  Stigma can be seen from family members, hospital staff, government officials, and throughout their community.

Most HIV positive individuals fear rejection from others. This could lead them to losing their jobs, homes, and status. This is called self-stigma. Where they blame themselves for catching the disease and that you deserve to be punished. This damages the individual’s mental well-being which expedite the silence and shame surrounding the disease.

The government can also play a role in social stigma concerning HIV. They have the power to assign laws and policies to exclude infected individuals from participating in certain daily activities. The U.S HIV immigration Ban and travel restrictions were signed into law in 1993 by the Clinton Administration. Until 2010 the ban was finally lifted.

Though healthcare workers provide life-saving treatment to those infected with HIV, there are some instances where confidentiality is leaked which is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA). Some patients may not want to disclose their personal information and employment, e.g. being a sex-worker for fear of being judged and discriminated.

More importantly social stigma concerning HIV/AIDS hinders the individual from getting tested, disclosure of their status, and to cooperate with public health officials.

The prevalence of negativity and misconceptions is mainly due to the lack of education among the community.

Many people believe that those with HIV are a public health risk. But in fact, it cannot be picked up during day-to-day contact and implementing universal precautions are enough to protect healthcare workers. You can prevent passing on HIV to sexual partners by using condoms. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be prevented in nearly all cases with the right treatment and care.

Stigma is powerful, painful, and often confusing because it resonates with our own internal fears. Overcoming it takes persistence, courage, a strong sense of self, and a willingness to work with others.

HIV/AIDS can infect anyone. Stigma is not the cure. So instead show your solidarity to those living with HIV by giving them the love and acceptance they need and educate others on the facts about the disease. We cannot allow discrimination to win.