Human immunodeficiency virus, as popularly known as HIV, is a virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS and is classified as a sexually transmitted infection. Unlike some other sexually transmitted infections, the human body cannot get rid of HIV, which means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. About 1.1 million people in the United States and about 34 million people in the world are living with HIV (CDC, 2014). Most people living with this virus is discriminated upon and treated badly every day in their life. HIV discrimination can range from; being ignored by family and friends, community, poor treatment in healthcare and education setting, workplace, and restrictions on travelling. Laws like the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and American with Disabilities Act of 1990 helps protect individuals with HIV against some of the discriminations they face.
HIV related discrimination can refer to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV. HIV discrimination exists worldwide and they occur alongside other forms of discriminations such as racism, homophobia, and drug users. Discriminating among HIV patients makes it difficult for people trying to come to terms with HIV and manage their illness on a personal level (avert, 2013), but also interferes with attempts to fight the HIV epidemic as a whole. Discrimination can also discourage individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment, and care. Among the HIV discriminants is at the health care settings where people go for treatments and care.
Discrimination in the health care setting is one of the top discriminants in the world. People can experience discrimination such as being refused medicine or access to facilities, receiving HIV testing without consent, and a lack of confidentiality. Such responses are often fuelled by ignorance of HIV transmission routes amongst doctors, midwives, nurses, and hospital staff. Fear of exposure to HIV as a result of lack of protective equipment is another factor fueling discrimination among doctors and nurses (CCGHE, 2004). Discrimination can have negative effects on the quality of care patients receive and so health care workers need to be aware of it. Accurate information about the risks of HIV infection should be available to health care workers, and they should also be encouraged to not associate HIV with immoral behavior. Facilities should have equipment and information so health workers can carry out universal precautions and prevent exposure to HIV.
Not only is HIV discrimination seen at health care settings, but also it is seen among family members and friends. Family and friends are seen as the primary caregivers when somebody falls ill, there is clear evidence that families play an important role in providing support...