Background/introduction Issues faced by healthcare-workers (HCW) with HIV are complex. HIV positive individuals continue to experience unacceptable levels of health related stigma. National HIV testing week offers a perfect platform to raise the profile of HIV within our hospital Trust.
Methods HIV positive healthcare workers were approached and asked to write an account of their experiences of testing, living and working with HIV and whether they had chosen to disclose their status to colleagues and the outcome of that experience. Key themes were extracted from the stories.
Results Six healthcare workers living with HIV, on treatment, in care, agreed to share their stories. Key themes from the stories were: missed opportunities for HIV testing pre-diagnosis, misdiagnosis and misunderstanding of HIV from HCW, feeling judged and experiencing prejudice from HCW, loss of professional confidence due to negative attitudes towards HIV/AIDS from HCW, delayed or non-disclosure of HIV status due to experiencing negative comments or behaviours towards HIV in clinical settings: however HCW who disclosed their status at work experienced significant support and empowerment, including a desire to teach and train HCW. Patient stories were used in HIV testing week to promote testing as part of a larger HIV-awareness campaign.
Discussion/conclusion Engaging HIV positive healthcare workers as part of a strategy to increase awareness of HIV in healthcare settings is empowering for patients and a powerful message to colleagues.
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