Managing HIV and AIDS stigma in the workplace : case study of the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development
Mnyanda, Yoliswa Ntuku
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HIV/AIDS remains the primary threat to South Africa’s economic, social and political development. HIV and AIDS are serious public health problems, which have socio-economic, employment and human rights implications. It is recognised that the HIV/AIDS epidemic will affect every workplace, with prolonged staff illness, absenteeism, and death impacting on productivity, employee benefits, occupational health and safety, production costs and workplace morale. Furthermore HIV/AIDS is still a disease surrounded by ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and stigma. Despite the efforts being taken by DSD to remedy the situation, the department is confronted with challenges impeding its efforts because of HIV and AIDS related stigma. The main objective of the study is therefore to assess the impact of HIV and AIDS stigma on employees. Whilst the literature study expressed HIV/AIDS to include ostracism, rejection, avoidance of people with HIV/AIDS, discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and violence against persons who are perceived to have AIDS or to be infected with HIV, in DSD the study indicated that the employees in the understand the meaning of HIV / AIDS stigma and have problem working with employees living with HIV or AIDS. The study also supports the fact that an employee who voluntarily discloses his/her HIV status should be kept confidential and not be divulged without his/ her consent as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of South African Constitution. Conclusions have been derived from the study and recommendations offered to guide DSD to effectively and efficiently handle the problem of HIV and AIDS - related stigma.
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