So here we are on World AIDS Day 2023, four decades after the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
The first case of HIV in the UK was identified in December 1981. John Eaddie was a 49-year-old guest-house proprietor from Harrogate. He died of an AIDS-related illness in July 1982.
HIV/AIDS treatments have evolved significantly, transforming HIV from a terminal diagnosis to a manageable, chronic condition. This includes the first long-acting injection for HIV, alongside treatments that are highly effective in preventing people contracting HIV such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Despite progress, fear and discrimination continue to affect HIV support in health and social care. To assist the ageing population, especially long-term survivors, combatting stigma is crucial. Misconceptions persist, leading to unequal access to healthcare and social exclusion. Efforts must focus on creating an inclusive and supportive environment in health and social care to address these challenges.
So what areas should you consider to support World AIDS Day 2023?
- Education and Training
This is such a powerful tool against discrimination and a great example has to be the Terrence Higgins Trust ‘Can’t Pass It On’ campaign, spreading this message far and wide, so we can end HIV stigma and HIV transmissions, once and for all.
Providing accurate and up-to-date information about HIV transmission, treatment, and prevention helps dispel myths and misconceptions. Health and social care professionals should undergo comprehensive training to understand the complexities of HIV and learn how to provide non-discriminatory care and support.
- Empathy and Compassion
Both play pivotal roles in supporting LGBTQ+ individuals and especially those living with HIV. Creating a safe space where they feel respected and understood encourages open communication about their healthcare needs. Respect for confidentiality and privacy is equally crucial to build trust between service users and health and social care providers.
- Person-Centred Care and Support
Using a person-centred approach for those living with HIV not only supports with physical health but also mental and emotional wellbeing. Access to mental health services and support groups tailored for individuals with HIV can significantly enhance their overall quality of life. In addition, supporting them to remain an active part of their community prevents a degree of social isolation.
- Policies and Procedures
In health and social care settings, implementing anti-discrimination policies is essential. Policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on HIV status, coupled with measures to enforce these policies, can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. This ensures that individuals living with HIV receive the same level of care and support as anyone else seeking health and social care services.
Working in partnership with other health and social care providers, community and advocacy groups are crucial elements is providing a supportive environment. These partnerships can facilitate access to resources, such as support networks, advice, advocacy and financial aid, all of which are vital for individuals living with HIV.
- Public Awareness
Promoting public awareness campaigns can be instrumental in challenging bias, attitudes and reducing stigma within your staff teams. By debunking misconceptions, and emphasising the importance of empathy, these campaigns can gradually reshape perceptions and can create a compassionate environment. This enables service users living with HIV to feel comfortable accessing the much needed support and care they deserve, free from the burden of stigma and discrimination.
Review your commitment in supporting the LGBT+ community: https://www.qcs.co.uk/lgbt-inclusive-audit/