Eliminating stigma and discrimination in health-care systems

 

13 November 2015: Widespread HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the health-care sector impedes access to services and impairs the quality of health-care delivery for people living with HIV and other key populations. It also undermines efforts to achieve the highest attainable standard of health for everybody.

 

At a two-day meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 10 and 11 November, key stakeholders came together to discuss ways to eliminate all forms of discrimination in health-care settings, using the lessons learned from the AIDS response as an entry point. The event, organized by UNAIDS and the Global Health Workforce Alliance, also focused on the UNAIDS 2016–2021 Strategy and the upcoming Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030.

 

Stigma and discrimination in health takes many forms—the denial of health care and unjust barriers to service provision, inferior quality of care and a lack of respect. Abuse and other forms of mistreatment, violation of physical autonomy, mandatory testing or treatment and compulsory detention are other forms of stigma and discrimination encountered by people living with HIV.

 

The meeting concluded with a clear call for more coordinated action. UNAIDS and the Global Health Workforce Alliance were asked to develop a plan before next year’s Zero Discrimination Day, on 1 March, to work towards ending discrimination in health-care settings. Priorities include political advocacy, strengthening accountability mechanisms, sharing existing evidence and best practices and building evidence-informed policy for implementation and scale-up of programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination at all levels.