Stigma, discrimination still persist against people living with HIV– ILO

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By Prudence Arobani


New Yor    –        People living with HIV have continued to face career discrimination and stigmatisation, a new study launched by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

Based on a 13-country team surveys throughout the world, ILO’s ‘HIV Stigma and Discrimination in the World of Work: Findings from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index’, draws on interviews with more than 100,000 people living with the virus.

Shauna Olney, Chief of the ILO branch, which deals with gender, equality, diversity and AIDS, spoke in Amsterdam at the launch of the study.

Olney said in spite of the progress in treatment which has enabled them to work, “It is sad to see that despite years of work, stigma and discrimination still persist.’’

“But treatment alone is not sufficient. We must work harder to reduce stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV at workplaces. They have a right to work and no one should deny them that,” she added.

Co-written with the Global Network of People Living with HIV, the report was introduced during the ongoing week-long biennial International AIDS Conference, “AIDS 2018”, the largest conference on any global health or development issue in the world.

The data highlights a number of findings, such as that 10 out of 13 countries recorded a 30 per cent or higher unemployment rate for people living with HIV at a greater rate among HIV-positive youth.

The study finds women living with HIV are less likely to be employed than their male counterparts because of unpaid care responsibilities and a lack of independent income.

Another key finding revealed that HIV status costs many people their jobs – often because of employer or co-worker discrimination- resulting in many people being hesitant to disclose their HIV status to employers or even co-workers.

Sasha Volgina, Programme Manager, GNP+, the Global Network for and by People Living with HIV, said HIV-related discrimination remained a major cause for not receiving job promotions.

Volgina said: “What this report shows is that we still have a long way to go in our efforts to combat workplace related stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

“Access to healthcare and access to employment are inextricably linked and as such a meaningful commitment toward stemming the epidemic and securing the wellbeing of all people living with HIV cannot be met without prioritising ending HIV stigma in the workplace,’’ she said.

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