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For better health and social care

Fighting Misconceptions about HIV for the Deaf


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. Some think that being given an HIV+ diagnosis is a good thing, as they think it means they don’t have the virus. Many don't know what a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is or how they can be passed on. Others think that the contraceptive pill can prevent HIV and STIs.

As a result, over the last 12 months charity 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.

However, there is more to do if Deaf people are to be fully informed about HIV, and there needs to be a range of opportunities and methods for them to learn about the issues.

There are many ways that services can help raise HIV awareness with Deaf people, including:

  • SignHealth has a suite of BSL videos that translate information provided by the Terence Higgins Trust for services to share and promote. The videos can be found here
  • 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

Find out more at SignHealth or read the attached press release for more information.


SignHealth Press Release - Deaf & HIV