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HIV prevention campaigns – different statements can confuse you

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Is condom mandatory or not HIV positive? The Federation and Aids-Hilfe Schweiz make different statements. But they are not contradictory, they both say.

Condom is the best protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. This is a simple message from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) Love Life Campaign.

On the other hand, a key message in the Aids-Hilfe Schweiz campaign is that HIV-positive people in therapy do not affect anyone – not even during sex, or even without a condom.

Combating discrimination

Doesn't that sound contradictory? No, let's just say, the Swiss Federation and aids help Switzerland a little. Andreas Lehner, director of Aids-Hilfe, takes the criticism seriously: "We learned from last year's campaign: It is important to differentiate whether we are talking about prevention or anti-discrimination." And in the AIDS campaign, Switzerland's help talks about combating discrimination against HIV-positive people.

Recent unpublished figures would show that people with HIV in Switzerland remain discriminated against, Lehner says. For example, with a dentist, in a nursing home, in health insurance – or in life insurance: "It's more HIV positive than spitting, life insurance."

The surprising fact is that life expectancy is the same as for an HIV-negative person, Lehner said. "The risk for insurance companies is not greater." So they want to get more informed – and the campaign has been complemented by new entities such as "HIV – Together Against Taboos" and "HIV – Together for More Knowledge".

The federal government in charge of HIV prevention sees Love Life as fundamentally difficult when two campaigns run on the same topic at the same time, but the message is different, according to Daniel Koch of the competent BAG. "But I think these two campaigns are going well together."

From a FOPH perspective, then, is a successful division of tasks. On the one hand, the Aids-Hilfe-Schweiz-Campaign, which aims to reduce the fear and discrimination of HIV-positive people, on the other, a federal love life campaign that should educate the general public on how to protect themselves against HIV.