When healthcare workers have stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV it may lead to discriminatory behavior that interferes with prevention, treatment, and care. This research examined the HIV-related stigmatizing attitudes reported by health workers in Santiago, Chile.
The study used focus group data from the first phase of a larger study to develop and test a HIV prevention intervention for Chilean health workers. Ten focus groups were conducted with Health workers in two communities in Santiago, Chile. Content analysis was used to analyze the data.
Two central themes emerged: Societal stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and healthcare system's policies related to HIV. Both inaccurate fears of transmission among the general public and Chilean Health workers and societal prejudices against homosexuals contributed to stigmatization and discrimination.
Health workers did not recognize their own stigmatizing attitudes or discriminatory behaviors, but their discussion indicated that these behaviors and attitudes did exist. Healthcare system issues identified included problems with confidentiality due to the desire to inform other health workers about client HIV status. Health workers must be sensitized to the current stigmatization and misinformation associated with HIV and its negative impacts on persons living with HIV and the general community.
All clinical and non-clinical workers at community clinics need mandatory education for HIV prevention that focuses on changing attitudes as well as sharing knowledge. Also, the Chilean law protecting people living with HIV and the confidentiality of their medical care needs to be publicized, along with guidelines for its enactment in clinics and other health facilities.
Cianelli et al
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Journal Article (Peer reviewed publication), Chile, South America,