Stigma against HIV positive people in the Russian workplace
“The stigma has not gone away”: how people with HIV are treated in the workplace
According to a survey by SuperJob, attitudes towards those with HIV have become more and more tolerant and understanding in the workplace. The charitable foundation Steps looked into whether this is a reality.
On October 8, the SuperJob job search service shared the results of their survey on attitudes towards people with HIV in the workplace. 1,104,768 people are currently living with HIV in Russia, according to the data provided by the To Be Precise project.
The survey asked 11,000 working Russians how they would behave if they found out a colleague was HIV-positive. 62% of respondents answered that this would not change anything, and they would continue to communicate, shake hands and have dinner together, as they know HIV is not transmitted through everyday contact.
14% of those surveyed said they would restrict further communication with the colleague. 2% would stop communicating altogether. 22% could not say for sure what their reaction would be to such information. Women are more tolerant of HIV status: 66% of female respondents responded positively, compared to 57% of male responses. Residents of large cities also responded more tolerantly: Moscow (70%), St. Petersburg (67%) and Yekaterinburg (66%).
SuperJob added that tolerance towards HIV has increased 6% from 2016, when a similar survey was conducted.
Kirill Barskiy, Programme Manager at the Steps Foundation, believes that stigma cannot be measured so easily with one question.
He adds: “You need to ask people what they know about HIV, what would they do if they drank from the same mug as someone who is HIV-positive, and other similar questions. Then it is possible to begin to form an assessment of the attitude towards HIV-positive people.”
In his opinion, the stigma towards people with HIV has not gone anywhere: these people remain part of a stigmatized group and therefore are at higher risk as targets of discrimination.
In the workplace, people with HIV prefer not to disclose their status, says Barskiy. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, a person may not want to share personal health information that does not pose risks to others. “HIV is not the flu. After all, people don’t normally disclose if they have a disease, for example, gonorrhea or a fungal infection,” Barskiy explained.
Secondly, people are afraid of the stigma which, according to Barskiy, is not unreasonable.
Translated by Holly Battye