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End AIDS stigma at work now

Hala Evans

On the thirtieth anniversary of World AIDS day on 1 December 2018, Dr Hala Evans, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, believes that the next frontier in the fight against HIV/AIDS is making workplaces sensitive and tolerant places for sufferers. Contributor Dr Hala Evans, Senior Lecturer in Public Health – University of Bedfordshire.

“The advancement of HIV treatment means sufferers of HIV/AIDS continue to be productive members of the society and encourages the majority of those who are employed to continue in work. This is why workplace disclosure has become increasingly important in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“HIV-related stigma, loss of job, and lack of career progress have all been reported as consequences for HIV disclosure in the workplace. However, if prejudice is rooted out HIV disclosure can help policymakers and employers to provide employees with more protection against all forms of discrimination or stigma. This can be by way of facilitating access to social services as well as counselling and financial support if needed. In addition, it can enable workplaces to implement some effective prevention interventions and promote a healthy lifestyle for staff.

“To effectively address the impact of stigma more awareness campaigns are needed and the confidentially of employees who do disclose their condition must be protected. Specifically, workplaces need to do more to address privacy of individuals and actively raise awareness of the HIV virus and AIDS. In cases where the HIV status of employees must be known due to the nature of their job, organising HIV testing off-site can minimise suspicion by fellow workers and promote the privacy of staff. In organisations where HIV testing is required before a successful job application, data protection policies must be made clear to all employees. These simple adjustments would promote trust and transparency between the management and employees and reduce discrimination against workers.

“Globally, some progress is being made accepting people with HIV in the workplace. However, in many countries, especially in the developing world, many people with HIV suffer from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work. Workplaces can play a major role in changing this by implementing effective workplace interventions and awareness raising to end the stigma once and for all.”

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