A new report reviewing 239 thousand online conversations surrounding serophobia – an aversion to, disdain for, or fear of people living with HIV – has today been published by leading youth charity Ditch the Label for World AIDS Day.
The report examines how hate speech targeting people living with HIV and AIDS online has evolved since the pandemic began, where the conversation about serophobia is happening globally, and how advocacy efforts have helped.
Ditch the Label has partnered with Brandwatch, the digital consumer intelligence company, to analyse public online conversations about hate speech leading up to and since the pandemic began. Reviewing social media sites, forums and blogs, the report aims to understand how English-language global discussion of and instances of hate speech targeting those living with HIV and AIDS have evolved between 2019 and mid-2021.
- The UK saw the highest rate of discussion about hate speech against people living with HIV or AIDS of any country studied. This was nearly double the rate of the country with the next highest rate, the United States.
- In the UK, people were much more likely to discuss the LGBTQ+ community and serophobia than elsewhere.
- There were an average of 245 online posts expressing or discussing serophobia every day over the last 2.5 years.
- Instances of and discussions around serophobia online have decreased 21% since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
- While violent threats and slurs or tropes make up a large part of the discussion around serophobia online, they have decreased by 35% and 22% respectively over the last 2.5 years.
- Use of the hashtags #EndHIVStigma and #ScienceNotStigma has increased by 64% and 473% respectively in the last 2.5 years as awareness is raised around the stigma attached to people living with HIV and AIDS.
COUNTRY SPECIFIC FINDINGS:
- Roughly 22% of the global discussion was from the UK with 41,263 posts about serophobic hate speech or instances of serophobia in the past 2.5 years. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, serophobia discussion fell by 42% in the UK.
- The United States drove 58% of the global online conversation about or instances of hate speech targeting people living with HIV or AIDS. This represented 109,687 posts since January 2019. Discussions of hate speech or examples of serophobia online in the United States has fallen by 25% in the US.
- Since the start of the pandemic, discussions about hate speech targeting people living with HIV and AIDS have increased in Uganda by 289%, Kenya by 5%, and South Africa by 14%.
Dr. Liam Hackett, CEO of Ditch the Label, said: “Many of those living with HIV and AIDS talk about their experiences with prejudice and stigma, often citing negative attitudes as being one of the hardest things about living with the condition. This report certainly validates those anecdotal experiences and highlights with objective figures that the UK is one of the most prejudiced countries towards AIDS and HIV.
“This report, however, does show that positive progress is being made with a linear reduction of discriminatory and abusive posts being published online. This is thanks to campaigns such as U=U and pioneering PSAs from charities such as Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and Avert.
“It is my hope that this research will affirm that prejudice is still a growing issue and will positively contribute towards global awareness and education. This research might also help validate the success of initiatives produced by charities and Government to reduce stigma.”
The full report can be found HERE: