Health workers urged to stop discriminating against people with HIV/AIDS

Published: 12 July 2004

Discrimination by doctors and nurses is undermining efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS said today.

A new study by the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+) found discriminatory policies and behaviour from hospitals and their staff.

“We were shocked to uncover a wide range of discrimination,” says APN+ adviser and principal investigator Dr Susan Paxton.

“We found people being refused treatment, treatment delays, breaches of confidentiality, people having to pay extra for treatment and women being forced to have an abortion or sterilisation.”

Discrimination undermines all our efforts to encourage HIV-positive people to lead normal, healthy, productive lives in their communities, says Dr Paxton. The risk of this poor medical care is that HIV-positive people won’t get the information and treatment they deserve to manage their own health and prevent the spread of AIDS.

“Sadly, such discrimination is common globally, and mostly based on ignorance,” says Bernard Gardiner, manager of the HIV/AIDS programme of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which collaborates with APN+ and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS to eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Health workers are afraid of infection, even though standard infection control procedures provide full protection. They also make a moral judgment about how the HIV-positive person got the virus, which is against their professional ethics, Gardiner says.

Discrimination by health workers sends a message to the rest of the community that it is acceptable to take away the rights of HIV-positive people.

“We urge health workers to get informed about HIV and act humanely towards all patients. Experience around the world has shown that health care that empowers people to make their own choices, get information and access to services is more likely to promote positive behaviour and attitude change,” he adds.

To read the report, AIDS Discrimination in Asia, go to:
http://www.gnpplus.net/regions/files/AIDS-asia.pdf

Map

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 189 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright