Page last updated at 05:58 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 06:58 UK

Cut out HIV discrimination call in AMs' report

Testing blood samples for HIV
The report recommends HIV routine testing is rolled out universally

More must be done to ensure people with HIV are not discriminated against when accessing healthcare, says a report by a cross-party group of AMs.

The report recommends better training for healthcare professionals who treat people with HIV.

It also recommends a public awareness campaign to dispel the myths associated with the virus.

The assembly equality of opportunity committee chair Ann Jones AM called the discrimination "unacceptable".

She said: "It is unacceptable that any person living with HIV should encounter discrimination by healthcare providers and although some improvements have been made, there is still work to be done."

The committee was told that patients with HIV often feel they are being unnecessarily referred to specialists when they could be given general health care.

Stigma

But evidence from healthcare professionals suggests that they believe they are acting in patients' best interests.

To combat this, the AMs' report recommends more effective training and easier access to HIV specialists for healthcare professionals.

The report also highlights that someone with HIV might be reluctant to make a formal complaint of discrimination, for fear of prejudicing any future treatment.

It recommends that HIV and AIDS charities should start letting local health boards (LHBs) know informally of cases of discrimination in their organisations.

Another recommendation of the report is that the assembly government targets the stigma surrounding the virus by encouraging LHBs to roll out routine HIV screening tests universally, instead of targeting high risk groups.

The report is being officially launched at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor on Monday.

Ms Jones added: "A key point that this inquiry has highlighted is that there are differences in opinion about whether discriminatory behaviours are the result of a lack of knowledge and experience, or a reflection of discriminatory or prejudicial attitudes.

"The committee's recommendation that healthcare workers are sufficiently informed is therefore of pivotal importance."

The committee chair also said she hoped that the report will "help to improve the situation for those living with HIV and ensure that they are treated on an equal basis to others".



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