In the MENA region, stigma and discrimination (S&D) faced by people living with HIV tends to be more severe for women living with HIV than for men, given gender inequality and societal gender norms. Within healthcare settings, common drivers to produce stigma can include negative attitudes, fear, lack of awareness about HIV and the impact of S&D. Health Care Providers may fear acquiring HIV; may experience moral distress based on their personal disapproval or beliefs; and may lack information and knowledge concerning HIV and how to provide care.
In 2021, under the Robert Carr Network Fund, MENA Rosa conducted a situation assessment on the relationship between Health Care Providers and women living with HIV in the MENA region. In addition, we developed three testimonial videos, revealing stories and challenges of women living with HIV in health care settings, and the impact of S&D on their lives.
“When I gave birth, they put me in an isolated room with an “HIV positive” sign on the door, and they gave me a bucket to use as a litter”. – WLHIV
In 2023, supported by ViiV Healthcare Positive Action, under “Stigma and Discrimination in Healthcare Settings” we conducted 20 encounters in Egypt and Tunisia, between Health Care Providers and women living with HIV who felt encouraged to share experiences in a safe space, in order to reduce stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings.
« During my surgery, the attending nurse did not call me by my name, but she said: where is the HIV? » – WLHIV
The project was implemented in partnership with local CSOs in Egypt: Freedom Cairo, Caritas Alexandria, Friends Minya and in collaboration with local authorities in Egypt: National Aids Program, UNAIDS Egypt.
The work was also conducted in partnership with the local CSO, l’Association Tunisienne de Prévention Positive (ATP+) in Tunisia, and in collaboration with relevant authorities in Tunisia: UNAIDS Tunisia, Programme National de Lutte contre le Sida, and Direction des Soins de Santé de Base.
A list of recommendations was drafted and shared during the closing ceremonies in Egypt and Tunisia. These recommendations were endorsed by attending stakeholders, to be adopted as essential steps towards reducing Stigma and Discrimination in Healthcare Settings.
“Lack of information and misconceptions on HIV, and lack of PEP kit at the medical center, are the main reasons of denying care to people living with HIV” – Health Care Provider
MENA Rosa will strive to sustain and expand such projects in the MENA region, as they not only enhance the lives of women living with HIV but also foster a more inclusive healthcare system.
Our aim is to advocate for a world where “Stigma and Discrimination” no longer hinders access to a dignified healthcare for women living with HIV.
This project is supported by