|Maria Ekstrand of the University of California San Francisco. © IAS/Deborah W. Campos - Commercialimage.net|
A large number of healthcare workers stigmatise patients with HIV and have misconceptions about how the virus can be transmitted, several studies presented to the Washington conference show.
Research conducted in India revealed that 70% of healthcare workers blamed patients for their HIV infection, and that misconceptions about the risk of HIV transmission from routine contact were widespread.
Other research conducted in China also found that many healthcare workers stigmatised their HIV-positive patients. However, investigators also found that it was possible to effectively address this stigma through education.
Ugandan research also showed that it was possible to change the attitudes of healthcare workers for the better, especially alongside the rolling out of an HIV treatment programme. Healthcare workers were encouraged by seeing improvements in their patients’ health and realised it was no longer a ‘death sentence’.