Home > A universal precautions approach to reducing stigma in health care: getting beyond HIV-specific stigma.

Treloar, Carla and Cama, Elena and Lancaster, Kari and Brener, Loren and Broady, Timothy R and Cogle, Aaron and O'Donnell, Darryl (2022) A universal precautions approach to reducing stigma in health care: getting beyond HIV-specific stigma. Harm Reduction Journal, 19, 74. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00658-w.

External website: https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/art...

BACKGROUND: Delivery of effective health care is hampered by stigma, the social processes that attach negative judgement and response to some attributes, conditions, practices and identities. Experiencing or anticipating stigma can lead to a range of practical impacts, including avoidance of health care. While we are concerned about the stigma that is attached to HIV, this commentary makes the argument that the health system is burdened by stigma of many origins.

MAIN BODY: Reducing stigma is a key issue in improving quality of health care. Our focus on HIV is about providing better care in a non-judgemental, respectful and dignified manner which enhances the health and well-being of individuals as well as delivering benefit to society at large through better population health outcomes. However, the same could be said for the numerous possible attributes, conditions, practices and identities that attract stigma. It is unrealistic to expect health systems to respond to siloed appeals for change and action. A unifying logic is needed to propel concerns about stigma to the front of the queue for action by health systems.

CONCLUSION: This commentary suggests the need for a universal precautions approach to stigma in health care, that focuses on recognising that all people may experience stigma and discrimination targeted at one or more aspects of their identities, attributes, practices and health conditions. Drawing on health system precepts of equity, access and quality of care, we argue that a universal precautions approach to reducing stigma of all origins can effect everyday aspects of policy, procedure and practice to improve outcomes for individuals and for population health.

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