i-Base, an HIV treatment information charity, talks to myGwork about their work in combating HIV and the importance of increasing awareness of HIV in society.
Image credit: i-Base
Could you tell us a little bit about your charity and the work that you do?
i-Base is an HIV treatment information project founded in April 2000. For over 20 years we have run projects for people living with HIV to understand more about our treatment choices.
We have an open Q&A service which answers thousands of individual questions every year. This can be done by phone, email and online.
This also covers related complications including COVID-19 and monkeypox.
What advice do you have for those who want to support people with HIV?
First, clear any prejudices against HIV. Whatever they are, they are likely to be wrong. Keep up-to-date on information - from a reliable source (such as i-Base). Learn about U=U and believe the research.
See whether any of your friends living with HIV are happy to talk to you about this aspect of their lives. But remember healthcare is personal and private. Sometimes people think they have a right to know, even with partners but this is not true.
How can we help battle the stigma still attached to HIV in society?
As above, first, learn about HIV so you are up-to-date.
Then assume everyone you know and meet is already HIV positive. How would that make you feel?
In day-to-day life, it can help to speak up and challenge HIV prejudice - if you are in a safe environment to be able to do this.
What can workplaces do to provide support for employees living with HIV?
Perhaps include HIV awareness training for all employees and volunteers - no exceptions.
Perhaps develop and publicise clear policies that increase awareness of HIV. This includes not including HIV as a medical condition that needs to be disclosed in any health assessment. HIV is not relevant to more than 99% of jobs so this is not relevant to employment.
Definitely ensure that confidentiality is strictly respected, in case this is something that people want to disclose.
What do you think is the next course of action to improve conditions for people living with HIV in wider society?
Stigma is still so pervasive that many people still keep their diagnosis to themselves. This is not a healthy way to live.
A recent survey reported that 1 in 10 women living with HIV has not told anyone other than their doctor.
In practice, HIV is now no different to any other common virus that many people have, but are not aware of.
Join myGwork's World AIDS Day panel on 1st December to learn more about how we can better support people with HIV.
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