Reducing HIV Stigma & Discrimination

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All Barbadians should feel comfortable accessing health care services and discussing their health with medical practitioners.

Senior Medical Officer of Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Anton Best, shared this view at the handover ceremony for a Code of Conduct poster at the Winston Scott Polyclinic on Wednesday.

Dr. Best explained that the poster was a result of a project spearheaded by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS, which saw several workshops being conducted for 204 staff members of the Winston Scott, Branford Taitt and St. Philip Polyclinics.

He stated that the sessions were designed to reduce the level of stigma and discrimination as it relates to HIV and AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in health care facilities.

???Stigma and discrimination is the biggest barrier for people to access services that are HIV-related??? but the project???s scope is a bit broader. It???s not just HIV and STI- related services because when you start to address some of the cultural barriers you start to focus on providing a better quality of service and you will improve the health services overall,??? the Senior Medical Officer maintained.

One of the facilitators of the workshops, Donovan Emmanuel, said that the sessions were ???intense??? and gave participants the opportunity to explore stigma and discrimination as it relates to themselves, their organisations and their communities.

Mr. Emmanuel said that though the workshops were informative and impactful, more still needs to be done to measure stigma and discrimination in Barbados so as to better tackle it.

???Stigma and discrimination is very broad; when we look at sexual orientation, in terms of Barbados, in terms of measuring it from that population there are some places and entities who would have done research but I cannot say what level it is at because we do not have a base line to measure it,??? he pointed out.

Before the workshops were held, a questionnaire was designed and distributed throughout the polyclinics and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to access the level of stigma and discrimination at those facilities. A programme was then designed based on the research found.

The Code of Conduct was then created by staff members following the training. It addresses how employees believe they should be treated by the clients, and, in turn, how the clients should be treated by them.

aisha.reid@barbados.gov.bb

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