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HIV stigma campaign offers training to NHS staff

28 November 2014

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A number of trusts across the UK have signed up to a campaign aiming to eliminate stigma and to provide HIV training to NHS staff.

The campaign ‘No HIV Stigma,’ launched by the National Aids Trust (NAT) comes just in time for World Aids Day, which takes place this Monday on 1st December.

So far 17 trusts have signed up.The NHS is not only a key source of information but plays a vital role in tackling stigma, according to NAT.

Many (40%) of people said that they had been treated differently or badly by a member of healthcare staff because of they are HIV positive, a survey has shown.

This echoes previous findings showing that stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings is common, with some people even refused care due to their HIV status. 

Deborah Gold, CEO of NAT, “Most people are shocked to hear that HIV stigma in healthcare is an issue – it should be a place where people are safe from the misconceptions and fear that lead to stigma – but unfortunately people living with HIV report coming face to face with stigma in the NHS and in other healthcare settings all too often.

“This is not acceptable.  It seriously impacts on a person’s health and wellbeing.  Many people tell us they do not feel comfortable talking about HIV to healthcare professionals other than their HIV specialist, often because of a bad experience in the past.  The NHS is our leading healthcare provider and it rests on principles of equality.  It’s great to see NHS trusts meeting their responsibilities.”

NAT have also produced an e-resource specifically targeting healthcare professionals to train staff and provide them with the training required to feel confident when treating health problems associated with HIV.

The guidance will also include information on routes of HIV and the levels of HIV risk in a healthcare setting.

The training will not only enable staff to feel more confident when handling HIV patients, but will improve the quality of treatments and ensure their understanding of HIV is accurate and up-to-date.