As per a recent global poll, stigma and discrimination against persons living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persist everywhere, including in the workplace. This is despite tremendous success in enrolling persons living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy over the last decade, as well as a drop in new HIV infections.
This survey was conducted in advance of World AIDS Day on November 30, 2021.
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The ILO collaborated with Gallup, an opinion polling business, to gain a better understanding of the causes underlying the persistence of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the workplace. It polled 55,902 people in 50 nations (26,307 women and 29,595 men).
According to the study report, The ILO Global HIV Discrimination in the World of Work Survey, discriminatory attitudes are fueled by a lack of awareness about HIV transmission.
In total, 50 nations were chosen from the list of UNAIDS Fast-Track countries, Gallup’s countries of emphasis for its World Poll in 2020, and The Global Fund’s Core and High Impact countries. The survey was substantially weighted in favour of African regions.
The regional groups were used throughout the paper to show how results varied by region. Eastern and southern Africa, Western and Central Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Western and Central Europe and North America were among them.
According to the survey, at least four out of ten respondents from all 50 countries believe that people living with HIV should not be allowed to work directly with others who do not have HIV. There was no discernible difference in the opinions of men and women.
However, opinions varied greatly among regions. The Middle East and North Africa, as well as Asia and the Pacific, had the lowest percentage of respondents who agreed that those living with HIV should be allowed to work directly with those who do not have the virus.
Persons living with HIV should be allowed to work directly with people who do not have HIV, according to at least 40.6 percent of respondents in Asia and the Pacific and 42 percent in the Middle East and North Africa.
Lack of awareness in India
Persons living with HIV should be able to work directly with people who do not have HIV, according to at least 46.8 percent of those polled in India.
Over 80% of those polled in India believed they were at “danger of becoming infected by dealing with an HIV-positive person at work.” This implies a lack of awareness, which was greater among women than males.
Over 90% of women were concerned about becoming infected at work by an HIV-positive coworker.
However, in Eastern and Southern Africa, 89.9% of respondents believed people living with HIV should be permitted to work with people who do not have HIV. This is despite the fact that the HIV prevalence among 15-49 year olds is greater there.
Six in ten persons backed mandatory HIV testing before being allowed to work; yet, only one in every four correctly answered questions about how HIV is transmitted.
Higher educational levels, according to the survey, were also related with more positive views regarding working with HIV-positive people. Globally, 68% of those with tertiary education believed that working directly with persons living with HIV should be permitted, compared to 39.9% of those with only primary education.
By the end of 2020, around 38 million individuals worldwide were living with HIV, with 1.5 million newly infected that year.
HIV is a huge global public health challenge, and the emerging coronavirus disease has added to it. This is especially true in the region of eastern and southern Africa, which is the epicentre of the HIV pandemic, with 800,000 new HIV infections each year, or slightly under half of the global total.