The Importance of “Safe Spaces” in HIV Testing and Prevention
How HIV Testing and Prevention Can Be Improved
Despite advances in the treatment of HIV, some find it challenging to continue treatment, or even seek HIV testing or treatment in the first place. More and more research points to certain social stigmas as a possible cause. Some such stigmas are gay or bisexual black men are at the highest risk of contracting HIV. While they make up a small percentage of the population, they have the highest percentage of new cases – nearly 75% in just a span of a couple years. Experts are not only concerned with proper treatment of the disease, but also the lack of prevention tactics. Areas called Safe Spaces have proven beneficial for individuals with HIV or those at the highest risk of contracting the virus.
What Is a Safe Space?
A Safe Space can be a physical location or one on the Internet. It’s a place where individuals who feel shunned by society, their families, religion, or other institutions can come together and feel welcomed. Studies continually show that when people feel connected to others and receive support, they fare better with their diagnosis and maintain treatment schedules. It is well documented that Safe Spaces become acceptable and common hangouts for those who are HIV positive.
Challenges Facing Safe Spaces
The main challenge with the safe spaces program is, of course, funding. Budget cuts are common, and Safe Spaces are often the first to go. It is hoped that further studies of the value of such programs will be acknowledged instead of underestimated. Current research is underway as to how such spaces might contribute to the prevention of HIV. Those who frequent the Safe Spaces, but do not test positive, can be given medication to help the body prevent a future infection. As long as the safe space is there, this preventative measure could help many from contracting HIV. Other studies are examining how Safe Spaces may help other health issues, such as Hepatitis C, that carry a stigma.
The sense of community provided by Safe Spaces allows individuals to feel secure and open to have HIV testing, prevention and treatment. Experts are convinced that these spaces will prove invaluable tools for reaching those who lack other options.