More than one quarter of HIVers believe they've experienced discrimination at the hands of health care workers, according to a study in the October edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Interviews with nearly 2,500 HIV-positive people nationwide showed that 26% believed a health care provider had been uncomfortable with them, treated them as inferior, tried to avoid them, or refused service to them because of their HIV infection. More than half of the reports of perceived discrimination involved doctors, 39% involved nurses or other clinical staff, 31% involved hospital staff, and 8% involved social workers.
'It is especially concerning to us when refusal of services is reported by a group for whom the legal system has often had to intervene to ensure access to care,' the researchers wrote. Although they noted that some of the cases could be simple misunderstandings, they still called for the development and implementation of 'effective strategies'to reduce actual and perceived discrimination in health care.'