A stigma reduction toolkit for the Victorian healthcare workforce

Stigma and discrimination are key issues for those affected by blood-borne viruses (BBV) and sexually transmissible infections (STI). They can hinder healthcare access, complicate intimate relationships, increase social isolation, and undermine trust in healthcare services. BBV and STI-related stigma is often inseparable from other forms of stigma related to sexuality, gender identity, or race, and research has long shown healthcare settings are key sites in which stigma is experienced. The effects of stigma related to BBV and STI in healthcare are far-reaching, limiting access to prevention, testing and treatment, and undermining the trust required for effective therapeutic relationships.

Most research on BBV- and STI-related stigma and discrimination within healthcare settings has focussed most on analysing how stigma manifests and much less on how to address it. This project addresses this gap by investigating the strengths and weaknesses of available BBV and STI-related stigma and discrimination reduction tools and developing a toolkit in collaboration with end users, that is the BBV and STI healthcare workforce. While the toolkit is for use by BBV and STI health services, the broader aim of the toolkit is to improve health outcomes for the clients and patients of these services.

Project activities

We are currently recruiting Victorian healthcare workers involved in blood-borne viruses and STI health service sectors to participate in online focus groups about how to address stigma, discrimination and related issues.

Contact Dr Jeanne Ellard for more information or to participate in the project: j.ellard@latrobe.edu.au

The project team comprises:

Chief investigators

Professor Suzanne Fraser, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Dr Adrian Farrugia, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Dr Renae Fomiatti, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Dr Jeanne Ellard, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Project staff

Dr Jeanne Ellard, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Emily Lenton, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

The research is funded by a grant from the Victorian Department of Health.