News / Africa

HIV-Positive Liberians Fight Workplace Discrimination

HIV-positive people in Liberia say they are being discriminated against in the workplace. AIDS counselors say that is adding to depression and isolation.

In a country where official unemployment tops 80 percent, it is hard for anyone in Liberia to find a job. But people who are HIV-positive say it is even more difficult for them because many employers refuse to hire people who have the virus that causes AIDS.

"We are very troubled about this situation," said Samuel Thompson. "Things are really getting hard on us. Every time we are denied jobs. Our families are suffering. And we are neglected by our own people. We don't know what to do."

Samuel Thompson is HIV positive. He says not being able to provide for their families adds to the stress of Liberians who have contracted the virus.

"Why should we be treated in such a manner as if to say we are not human beings? We too are human beings," he said. "We are angry about this."

HIV counselor Smith Sando says the public rejection of job discrimination further isolates HIV-positive Liberians and can lead to deep depression.

"There is a need for the individual who is HIV positive to understand the issue of neglect, the issue of stigma," said Smith Sando. "Now, it is not a stigma that is coming from outside. It is not a stigma that is coming from a friend or the family. It is a stigma that is coming from within the individual."

Sando says his clinic helps people learn how to live with the virus and how to cope with a society that largely excludes them.

"If they have accepted, firstly, accepted their status and understand that, yes, they need to survive," he said. "They need to kind of free their mind that, yes, they are HIV positive. They should not worry about what society thinks about them."

As a high-school drop-out with HIV, Larry Teah says he has no chance to find a job in a society where he says HIV-positive Liberians are treated as if they are from another world.

"People are discussing our conditions as if to say we are from the evil forest," said Larry Teah. "We want to live. We are often denied jobs. We have been neglected and abandoned by family members. We have no more hope. Something needs to be done about this."

Counselor Sando says ending job discrimination against HIV-positive Liberians begins with basic education about how the virus is spread.

"People do not understand what it is," said Sando. "They just think that if somebody has it, when you shake their hand you are going to get it. No. It is not. Even eating with a person you are not going to get it. So if people understand how HIV can be transmitted, obviously they will be able to live with anybody in their home. They can be able to work with the person."

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 35,000 Liberians are HIV positive. More than three-quarters of those infected are women.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid