UNAIDS issues guidance on reducing stigma and discrimination during COVID-19 responses

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UNAIDS

UNAIDS have published a brief that provides evidence-informed guidance to countries on how to reduce stigma and discrimination in the context of COVID-19. The brief outlines specific recommendations for addressing stigma and discrimination related to COVID-19 in six settings: community settings, including individuals, families and communities; workplace settings; education settings; health-care settings; justice settings; and emergency/humanitarian settings.

“Many forms of stigma and discrimination have surfaced since the identification of COVID-19. Xenophobia has been directed at people thought to be responsible for “bringing” COVID-19 into countries. People who have recovered from COVID-19, essential workers such as health-care staff, and populations facing pre-existing stigma and discrimination (e.g. people living with HIV, people from gender and sexual minorities, sex workers, migrants) have been subject to verbal and physical abuse.

In several countries, people living with HIV report being required to disclose their HIV status when seeking HIV services during lockdowns, especially adolescents, women and transgender people. Increases in violence have been reported among women and people from gender and sexual minorities as a result of stay-at-home orders and physical distancing measures. Attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth under the guise of public health enforcement measures, and lack of social protection and income security for sex workers, have been documented.

Efforts to eliminate both existing and COVID-19-related stigma and discrimination are urgently needed and should be an integral component of global efforts to respond to the pandemic. Particular attention is needed to ensure people from vulnerable populations, including racial and gender minorities, are protected during the response and are not further marginalized, as emerging evidence suggests these populations are experiencing high morbidity and mortality related to COVID-19.”

The brief calls on countries to strengthen legal and policy environments to ensure laws and policies protect populations “being left behind”. You can read the full brief on the UNAIDS website.