HIV: half of patients experience discrimination from health staff

Half of people living with HIV have experienced discrimination from healthcare workers, according to a study.

Researchers at City University and Homerton University Hospital in London found that people living with HIV were being refused treatment or treated differently by dentists, GPs and non-specialist hospital staff.

The study of almost 1,400 people living with HIV found that one-third experienced discrimination, including rejection from family members and employers, that increased as physical signs of the disease became more apparent.

Professor Jonathan Elford of City University said: “People who experience HIV discrimination suffer rejection, isolation and emotional distress. The consequences of HIV discrimination, together with the fear of discrimination, are far-reaching. They include delays in seeking an HIV test, failure to access health and social care and non-disclosure of HIV status.”

In response to the findings, Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, called for the Department of Health to take more action to tackle discrimination against people with HIV both in and outside of the NHS.

The study is due to be published in the journal Aids and Behaviour next month.

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