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Stigma and discrimination high among Jamaican health service providers
- Last Updated on Friday, 13 July 2012 20:21
- Published on Friday, 13 July 2012 20:21
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A study of stigma and discrimination among health facility and social services staff in Jamaica has revealed that there is widespread stigma towards most –at-risk persons (MARPs) including persons living with HIV (PLHIV), men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers (SW), within the health services.
The study titled Layered Stigma Among Health Facility Staff and Social Services Staff – Towards Most-at- Risk Populations in Jamaica was conducted by FHI 360’s Communication for Change (C-Change) project in Jamaica with funding from the United States Agency for International development (USAID)/President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). C-Change provides technical assistance in social and behavior change communication (SBCC) to improve the quality and scale of Jamaica’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
The study noted that “fear of casual contact or desire to avoid contact with PLHIV and MARPs occurred in both clinical and nonclinical settings. Measures of shame, blame and judgment, particularly as they related to views on immortality toward PLHIV and MARPs appeared to be the norm. While with less frequency, enacted stigma also was reported. MARPs experienced layered stigma, which threatens their quality of care and services thereby increasing their vulnerability.”
The study which was conducted in 2011 is in keeping with C-Change’s mandate of supporting civil society and government partners in developing evidence based programming and creating a supportive enabling environment for MARPs.
Using the International Centre for Research on Women 2012 definition of when stigma and discrimination occurs as someone who is devalued as a result of practices, behaviours, diseases or other characteristics with which they are associated, the study found that MSM and SW were among the most heavily stigmatized groups owing to their own “unique identifications and the socio-cultural hostilities and fears associated with them.”
According to the study, such stigma and discrimination results in an environment that is intimidating and creates vulnerabilities for infections, abuse, and death among MARPs especially as it relates to access of crucial prevention and treatment information services, quality of services received and treatment.
“Stigma and discrimination norms within health services often mirror and mutually reinforce wide social norms. Within health care settings, stigma and discrimination is particularly of concern given its impact on the ability of those stigmatized to receive appropriate and quality prevention services, treatment and care,” the study added.
The relationship between staff training and stigma and discrimination was also looked at in the study. It found that there was a direct relationship between the level of staff training and the degree to which client stigma and discrimination was manifested. Additionally, stigma and discrimination in the health sector varied by type of facility as well as location which showed a need for friendlier health service providers especially when it came to MARPs.