HIV Stigma in Healthcare.pdf - Journal of the International AIDS Society BioMed Central Open Access Review Combating HIV stigma in health care settings

HIV Stigma in Healthcare.pdf - Journal of the International...

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BioMedCentralPage 1 of 7(page number not for citation purposes)Journal of the International AIDS SocietyOpen AccessReviewCombating HIV stigma in health care settings: what works?Laura Nyblade*, Anne Stangl, Ellen Weiss and Kim AshburnAddress: International Center for Research on Women, Washington, DC, USAEmail: Laura Nyblade* - [email protected]; Anne Stangl - [email protected]; Ellen Weiss - [email protected]; Kim Ashburn - [email protected]* Corresponding author AbstractThe purpose of this review paper is to provide information and guidance to those in the health caresetting about why it is important to combat HIV-related stigma and how to successfully address itscauses and consequences within health facilities. Research shows that stigma and discrimination inthe health care setting and elsewhere contributes to keeping people, including health workers,from accessing HIV prevention, care and treatment services and adopting key preventivebehaviours.Studies from different parts of the world reveal that there are three main immediately actionablecauses of HIV-related stigma in health facilities: lack of awareness among health workers of whatstigma looks like and why it is damaging; fear of casual contact stemming from incompleteknowledge about HIV transmission; and the association of HIV with improper or immoralbehaviour.To combat stigma in health facilities, interventions must focus on the individual, environmental andpolicy levels. The paper argues that reducing stigma by working at all three levels is feasible and willlikely result in long-lasting benefits for both health workers and HIV-positive patients. Theexistence of tested stigma-reduction tools and approaches has moved the field forward. What isneeded now is the political will and resources to support and scale up stigma-reduction activitiesthroughout health care settings globally.ReviewA renewed global focus on HIV prevention, combinedwith a massive roll out of antiretroviral therapy, hasfocused worldwide attention on the ability of health facil-ities to deliver critical prevention, care and treatment serv-ices to a growing client population. HIV-related stigmaand discrimination are now recognized as key barriersboth to the delivery of quality services by health providersand to their utilization by community members andhealth providers themselves.Unfortunately, the health sector is one of the main set-tings where HIV-positive individuals and those perceivedto be infected experience stigma and discrimination [1,2].Studies show that HIV-related stigma in this context is per-nicious, and that its physical and mental health conse-quences to patients can be damaging [3-7]. Reducing HIV-related stigma in health settings should be a leading prior-ity for health care managers. Yet little attention has beenpaid to this issue, particularly in low-resource countriesgrappling with burgeoning HIV epidemics.
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