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Canadian Public Health Association

Do you understand how stigma and discrimination can lead to further exclusion and isolation?

  • A Core Competency in the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections (STBBIs)

Emerson was recently diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. Shortly after starting treatment, Emerson experiences shortness of breath and extreme dizziness. Not knowing what to do, he calls 911 and explains to the dispatcher that he recently began taking medication for hepatitis C. When the paramedics arrive, they are very rude and Emerson overhears them making snide comments about injection drug use. Once at the hospital, Emerson is very anxious and feels that he is unnecessarily isolated from other patients.

Do you work in the area of sexual health or STBBI prevention and support? Do you understand how experiences of stigma and discrimination, real or perceived, can lead to further exclusion and isolation for persons at risk or living with STBBIs?

Use the questions below to help you self-assess your knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices related to stigma and discrimination. Remember that depending on your role, you may require different levels of proficiency for the various core competencies and it is possible that some of the competencies are not relevant to your work.

  1. Does your organization have clear policies and guidelines related to clients' rights (e.g., right to dignity, privacy and confidentiality)?
  2. Does your organization have a policy of inclusiveness and, if so, is your physical space reflective of this policy?
  3. Are your history and intake forms reflective of the diversity of your clientele with respect to ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and gender identity?
  4. Do you avoid segregation and isolation of clients?
  5. Can you recognize and address your own feelings, attitudes and beliefs which can stigmatize and disempower persons living with or at risk of STBBIs, and particularly persons from already marginalized populations?
  6. What are some of the techniques that can be used to create safe and supportive environments and to better engage clients in open and honest conversations around issues related to STBBI prevention?

Suggested resources:

This is one of a series of cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention. View all 26 cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention.

Have a resource to suggest? Let us know.