Worldwide, stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion, excluding large groups of people from enjoying their right to “the highest attainable standard of health”. Stigma is a process of devaluing individuals and communities based on real or perceived characteristics that distinguish them from other members of society. These characteristics can be attributed to differences such as, among others, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, behaviour, disability or other health conditions. Stigma can cause physical and mental suffering.
Stigma and SRHR
The aim of the seminar Sensoa co-organised was to improve our understanding of the impact of stigma on the sexual and reproductive health of vulnerable populations who often lack the power or right information to claim their rights. Ellen De Geest, adviser of the Minister of Development Alexander De Croo, reiterated that investing in SRHR is crucial for development. The following presentations were on HIV-related stigma in sub-saharan African migrants, HIV-prevention in stigmatised contexts, stigma in relation with sexuality in adolescents, stigma on abortion and infertility.
Sensoa invited Jérôme André, director of the French ‘HF Prévention’ organisation, to talk about HIV/STI prevention among non-gay identified men who have sex with men. They are not reached through the classic campaigns, but form a large group of people with sexual contacts who are at high risk of transmission. André proposed innovative initiatives that were applauded by the public.