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Tulane University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment


Research Question—How does the social perception of HIV/AIDs in Chile affect the country’s prevention and treatment programs?

Background-- This paper investigated the social perception of HIV/AIDs in Chile through the opinions of experts who work closely to the issue, including regional and national political professionals, medical professionals on HIV/AIDs treatment teams in hospitals, and leaders of social organizations that had a relationship to HIV/AIDs representation and prevention. The professionals were also asked how they believed this perception affected the efforts of the Chilean government and national organizations in prevention and management of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in Chile. An abundant amount of previous research or publications in this topic does not currently exist, however, there has been research conducted by UNAIDS about the current status of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in Chile that did include information about persecution and stigmatization associated with the disease. The Ministry of Health of Chile also keeps up-to-date epidemiological statistics on the status of the epidemic in Chile, which could be used to evaluate the current effectiveness of campaigns and prevention strategies. Various organizations also have published articles about stigmatization and persecution of the HIV/AIDs population in Chile along with aspects of the culture of Latin America that propagates these occurrences.

Methodology-- This investigation was comprised of 11 formal interviews with experts in the area of HIV/AIDS in Chile.

Results--The results of these interviews coincided with existing information that stigmatization and persecution of people living with and the disease of HIV/AIDs persist in Chilean society. The respondents also noted a general ignorance and reluctance to talk about the topic of HIV/AIDS, as well as many other sexually related topics and personal issues of the Chilean population. They indicated that this was the situation primarily because of the continued power of the churches in Chilean politics, especially the Catholic church, the conservative nature of Chilean society which perpetuates extreme homophobia and persecution of other high risk groups for HIV such as transgendered individuals and commercial sex workers, an extremely machista society, and the continued presence of myths and beliefs associated with the history of HIV/AIDs.

Conclusions--The study highlighted that these aspects of Chilean culture create a large barrier to the success of prevention and treatment programs on a universal level, and to overcome them a combination of increased and universal sexual education, campaigns that are more informative and transparent, complete elimination of discrimination within the health services sector of Chile, and a diminution of the conservative aspects of Chilean society are imperative in order to overcome the current negative perception of HIV/AIDs in Chile.


Health Policy | Inequality and Stratification | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion

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