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Warning: Your HIV+ employees could be in grave danger because of the stigma of HIV

by , 20 November 2014
If you have an HIV+ employee, it's more than just his physical health that's in danger. His mental and emotional health is at risk too. After all, if his colleagues fear him because of his disease it could lead to them isolating and even abusing him.

This can lead to depression or worse.

You have a duty to protect your HIV+ employees from such harm.

Luckily there are ways to reduce the stigma of HIV in your workplace and protect all your employees at once.

But before I reveal these methods, I want to make you aware of the devastative effects HIV stigma can have...

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HIV stigma could cause your employee's death

Let's say your HIV+ employee has an injury at work. But because of the stigma and fear around his disease, all of his colleagues, including the first aiders, are too scared to help him.
If it's a serious injury, this could lead to permanent disability or even death.
This is a worst case scenario, but even if this doesn't happen, your HIV+ employee's colleague might bully and abuse him simply out of fear.
This could lead to situations where other employees assault an HIV+ employee in an attempt to try make him leave the company.
Or the isolation and abuse could lead to such severe depression that your employee may take his own life.
As you can see, HIV stigma isn't something you can just shrug of as an HR problem. You have to take steps to deal with it and reduce the HIV stigma in your workplace.
Don't know where to start? 
Take a look at what some of the Durban businesses did to help reduce HIV stigma.
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Here's how businesses in the Durban Centre took a stand against HIV stigma

At least ten businesses in the Durban Centre took part in a programme to create strategies to deal with HIV in the workplace.
Some of these businesses included:
- Barlo World;
- Beacon Sweets and Chocolates; and
- Commercial Elastic.
Each of these companies created different strategies to educate employees about HIV. For example, ABSA held a health expo to create awareness around HIV and reduce the stigma within the company.
Beacon Sweets invested R14 000 in HIV education material. They also took steps to create open dialogue between management and shop stewards about all health issues and not just those around HIV/AIDS.
These business found that employees responded well to these programmes. Offering training and education helped inform employees about the disease so they didn't fear it.
Creating this awareness is a key factor in reducing the stigma of HIV. If employees understand that their HIV+ colleague isn't a threat, they're less likely to abuse and isolate their colleagues.
So take steps in your company today to educate all your employees and reduce the stigma of HIV in your workplace. 
Check out HIV – Training in a Box for everything you need to educate your employees about HIV. 

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