Stigma and discrimination play significant roles in the development and maintenance of the HIV epidemic. It is well-documented that people living with HIV and AIDS experience stigma and discrimination in their workplaces and in society in general. A growing number of studies have concluded that South Africa has one of the highest cases of HIV infections in the world. With the epidemic continuing to evolve at an alarming rate, the government of South Africa has regarded the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a developmental, socio-economic and policy issue. In South Africa some 5.5 million people, including 240 000 children younger than 15 years, were living with HIV in 2005 (UNAIDS, 2006).
Since laws and policies alone cannot reverse the stigma that surrounds HIV infection, more and better AIDS education is needed to combat the ignorance that causes people to discriminate. The fear and prejudice that lies at the core of the HIV/AIDS discrimination needs to be addressed at both community and national levels. Human rights are inextricably linked with the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals and communities around the world. A lack of respect for human rights fuels the spread and exacerbates the impact of the disease, while at the same time, HIV/AIDS undermines progress in the realisation of human rights. The rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are often violated because of their presumed or known HIV-status, causing them to suffer both the burden of the disease and the consequential loss of other rights.
This paper reviews the available scientific literature and statistics about HIV/AIDS as well as information concerning the dimensions of stigma, discrimination and workers’ rights in the South African context over a period of six years. This research suggests that we need to acknowledge stigma and discrimination as a social phenomenon which needs to be understood at both individual and social levels. Furthermore, stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS must be managed within the context of human rights in industry and on all levels of society.
|Keywords:||Hiv, Aids, Stigma, Discrimination, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights|
Director / Associate Professor, School of Behavioural Sciences, North-West University (Vaal Triangle Campus), Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, South Africa
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