I am really concerned and worried about that. We are not speaking as much about HIV Treatment as we were in the 90s. The populations — including in the developing world — they know there is a treatment. They are less afraid about being infected by HIV Treatment and this makes things very difficult. The education and information should be adapted to this evolution. It has not been perfect. The campaigns should take into consideration that it’s a treatment for life, there is a proportion of treatment, after many years, that develop complications, and there are co-morbidities.
The general population is not very well informed about co-morbidities. I saw when I gave a talk to the public, when I start to think about cancer, or aging diseases that appear in patients on long-term ARVs, they say “nobody told us.” They are not fully informed and we have a responsibility.
- Why do you think so much stigma and misinformation still exists around HIV?
I guess we are still suffering of the early years of HIV Treatment … in the early 80s it was written everywhere in the media that HIV/AIDs was a disease affecting certain populations: in particular the gay population and the intravenous (IV) drug users and that’s really remained in the mind of civil society in general. They still feel somehow that, first of all, it’s a disease that particularly affects those people that are vulnerable but that do not belong to the regular population.
I have that kind of discussion, for example, with taxi drivers when I speak with them. You know, taxi drivers they like to speak, they say “what are you working on?” and after a while I say “I’m working on AIDS” and they say “Oh! You’re working on this disease that are affecting those gay people … you better work on other disease like cancer or any other disease that’s affecting us!” (An appalled is expression upon her face). So that means a lot to me.
Even in my own country, in France … I was strongly affected by all the discussion around gay marriage in my country. I thought that after so many years we had made progress in terms of recognition of any population and I was really upset when I saw so much conflict regarding the legislation. Fortunately, it’s over and the legislation has been accepted. But still, not everybody is accepting of those populations. That makes me really mad. Really mad.