NUI Galway has launched the first joint national survey on HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings.

Researchers in health promotion at the university are aiming to use the results to tackle the issue of stigma and improve health outcomes for people with the disease, learning from both from those living with HIV as well as those who provide healthcare for them.

The first survey of its kind in Europe, it is being supported by HIV Ireland and funded by the Irish Research Council ahead of Irish AIDS Day next month.

Principal investigator of the study, Dr Elena Vaughan said: "This research will help us to get a sense of what the needs and priorities are, both of people working in healthcare and people living with HIV, so that a collaborative approach may be taken to address stigma in healthcare settings.

"Experiences of stigma can put people off engaging with healthcare services. There is also evidence to suggest that stigma inhibits people from accessing testing and treatment, and so is a driver of the epidemic more broadly," she said.

Dr Elena Vaughan

It is estimated that approximately 7,000 people are living with HIV in Ireland and reducing HIV-related stigma is widely acknowledged as a key part of addressing the epidemic.

The survey can be accessed at www.nuigalway.ie for the month of June, with participants being given the option to withdraw at any time.