HIV Related Stigma and Discrimination: The Attitudes and Behavior of Workers in Insurance Companies in Lagos State
One of the greatest health problems threatening the human race is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS stigma and its related discrimination is a major constraint to the prevention and control of HIV. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had a selective impact on young men and women who constitute the main stay of the workforce. This study aims to assess the opinion of workers in a corporate setting regarding HIVrelated stigma and discrimination and their attitudes towards HIV positive persons in the workplace. A cross sectional descriptive study was carried out. Asemi-structured, self-administered pre-tested questionnaire was filled by four hundred workers in three randomly selected insurance companies in Lagos State. All workers present at work on the day of the survey were given the questionnaires to fill. All questionnaires were filled independently and collected immediately after they had been filled. Data was collated and analyzed using Epi info software version 6. Most of the respondents (83%) were of the opinion that HIV positive persons were being unfairly treated in the society and almost all of them (93%) believed that they did not deserve such treatment. However up to 25% of them felt that an employer had the right to deny a person employment solely based on his/her HIV status and up to 15% believed that HIV positive persons should be isolated. Fortyfour percent of respondents would not share an office computer with a known HIV positive coworker, 47.7% would not share the same eating utensils and 55.9% would not share the same toilet with a known HIV positive co-worker. Similarly, up to 64% felt that there should be separate dining facilities for HIV positive persons and almost 60% felt that there should be separate toilet facilities for HIV positive persons. This was despite the fact that over 95% of the respondents were aware that HIV could not be transmitted by such means. Almost a quarter (23.5%) of the respondents would not openly associate with known HIV positive persons. There was no statistically significant relationship between sex, income, ethnicity or religion and the decision to openly associate with HIV positive persons. (p>0.05) however educational level was found to be significantly associated with the decision to openly associate with HIV positive persons. (P<0.05). The findings of this study highlight the need for special emphasis on HIV-related stigma and discrimination as a vital part of HIV awareness campaigns in the work place.
Key words: HIV, stigma, discrimination, HIV positive persons, workers.