Stigma and discrimination are universally experienced by persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. It has been determined that homophobia, stigma, and discrimination negatively affect the health and well-being of clients and communities, and can result in the added burden of stress and health disparities. Experienced on the personal or individual and community level, stigma is an obstacle to prevention, care and treatment.
Globally, the social work profession must take an active stance to mitigate the overwhelming psychological and social effects of stigma, including the inequality of access to medical care and the lack of education and prevention in the United States and internationally. Through clinical practice, education, advocacy, and policy, social workers can combat stigma and discrimination, and work for increased access to care and treatment for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project is designed provide the necessary HIV and mental health practice skills for people working in social work, mental health, and substance abuse fields to enhance and promote culturally competent practice with individuals, families, and communities affected by HIV/AIDS .