Four issues you must address in your HIV training to help reduce the stigma

Ashley Churchyard, Fsp Business, 26 Nov. 2014

Tags: hiv at work, hiv in the workplace, hiv stigma, reducing hiv stigma, hiv training, hiv education, hiv management system

The stigma around HIV could be the undoing of your workplace HIV management system. After all, your HIV management must protect your HIV- employees from infection and HIV+ employees from any further harm.

If your employees fear the disease or don’t understand it, they may bully or isolate HIV+ employees. This means their lives may be in danger. And this stigma may stop employees from undergoing HIV testing or counselling because of the fear of what people will think and say.

Thankfully, you can combat the HIV stigma in your workplace by giving your employees effective HIV and safety training.

This will help your employees understand the disease. But to do this you need to cover certain points in your HIV training.

These four points are particularly important when it comes to reducing HIV stigma in your workplace…

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Four reasons why there’s a stigma around HIV 

According to there are four causes behind HIV stigma. They are:
1. HIV is a serious, life-threatening illness and there’s a long history of similar illnesses, such as cancer and tuberculosis, being stigmatised. People see someone with these serious illnesses as “diseased” and, therefore, treat them differently.
2. People who don’t understand how HIV transmissions works are afraid of contracting it through normal social contact.
3. If someone has strong views about sexual behaviour, he may think there are situations in which sex is wrong. If he does, such a person may believe he “deserves” to contract the disease. For example, if they sleep with multiple partners. 
4. The way people think about HIV depends on the way they think about social groups that are most affected by HIV. For example, some people already view women, gay men, immigrants and drug users negatively and, therefore, their HIV+ status just fuels that further. 
What this suggests is lack of education and prejudice are the cause behind most HIV stigma. The good news is, you can combat both of those with effective HIV training.
You simply need to create an HIV training programme that covers the right components.
Here’s how…

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Here’s what you need to include in your HIV training to reduce HIV stigma

To reduce HIV stigma, use your company’s HIV training to target the causes I listed above. 
That means you need to include:
1. Education on how people with HIV can control and live with the disease for years so it’s no longer viewed as a life threatening disease;
2. Explain how HIV transmission happens and that you can only contract the disease if you come into contact with HIV+ bodily fluids that enter your bloodstream through, for example, a cut on your hand. Explain that you can’t contract HIV through hugging, shaking hands or standing near someone with the disease.
3. If your employees are prejudice against someone of a specific sexual orientation, give that employee counselling to reduce his prejudice and stigma.
4. This also applies to prejudice towards women, immigrants and drug users. It’s difficult to remove this kind of prejudice and the stigma it leads to. The only way to improve this is through constant communication.
Also remember to treat your HIV+ employees the same as all your other employees. If you don’t, you set a precedent that they’re different and this makes the stigma worse. 
To find out everything you need to train your employees on HIV, check out HIV – Training in a Box

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