The story goes that the Doctor turned to the patient and said, “I’m sorry to tell you but you are HIV Positive.” The patient, who was deaf, punched the air and cheered, “That’s a relief!” The Doctor said: “No, you’re HIV Positive - you have HIV.” The deaf patient turned to the Interpreter confused and frightened: “But you said I was positive. Positive means everything is OK".
Sadly, since AIDS and HIV first became public knowledge in the 1980s until today, the lack of awareness among some members of the deaf community is evident.
As a result, SignHealth has been running HIV awareness workshops across Wandsworth to educate the deaf and help them understand the issues. The project, funded by Public Health England, aims to reduce the stigma of HIV and increase testing among deaf people.
Ways that services can help raise HIV awareness with deaf people
- SignHealth has a suite of British Sign Language videos that translate information provided by the Terence Higgins Trust for services to share and promote.
- Work with local deaf charities to share information and support people who might want to get tested.
- Make sure written information is in plain, simple English with short sentences.
- Make information visual - include simple graphics, diagrams and photographs.