WAD – trade unions organising to smash the stigma of HIV and AIDS
The stigma that still surrounds HIV and AIDS is the key barrier stopping people getting tested and allows this epidemic to flourish. World AIDS Day gives us an important opportunity to try and smash this stigma and encourage people to get tested. Trade unions have an important role to play in this.
And this epidemic is not going away. Data indicates that from 2006 to 2015, there has been a 73% increase in the number of people accessing HIV care. It is an issue which disproportionately impacts Black African communities and LGBT people.
In the workplace trade union can organise on the following issues:
- Help tackle the stigma. This can be though engaging management to provide internal communication particularly on WAD. This should promote issues such as regular testing and practicing safe sex.
- Encourage regular testing. Work with a HIV and AIDS charity such as Terrence Higgins Trust who can provide free and confidential testing on site. This will go some way in addressing stigma.
- In schools unions should encourage the inclusion of safe sex in any PHSE course. This should be linked to safety, autonomy and consent.
- Ensure employers are aware of their legal duties. People with HIV are protected against discrimination by the disability provisions of the Equality Act 2010, but as with many areas of the law, most workers and most managers are unlikely to be aware of this fact. People with HIV or AIDS should get time off for medical appoints including counselling and be protected from all forms of discrimination.
- Campaign internationally. Across the world rates of infection remain high and in many countries access to the drugs remains an obstacle where poverty is a significant factor. Making sure that challenging HIV and AIDS globally is a priority should actually encourage us to deal with it and its consequences here as well.