NUAA Stigma

About NUAA’s Stigma and Discrimination Campaign

The biggest threat to the health and human rights of people who inject drugs (PWID) and those living with BBVs is stigma and discrimination. Research shows that stigma and discrimination has a direct correlation with negative health outcomes. When experiences of stigma and discrimination lead to non-disclosure of BBV status, deference or avoidance of treatment, the result is decreased service access and poorer quality health service delivery:

“27.9% of participants reported experiencing discrimination from a healthcare worker other than a doctor, and 12.9% of participants reported experiencing discrimination from a doctor. In all, 12.7% reported that they had been refused medical treatment because they have hepatitis C infection. Compared with participants who did not inject drugs, current injecting drug users were more likely to report: refusal of medical treatment because they had been injecting at the time; IDU-related discrimination from their doctor, family and from friends.” ‘3-D Project’ (Hopwood and Treloar, 2003)

In order to address issues and challenge issues of stigma and discrimination, NUAA has been implementing training based on resources developed by the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL). NUAA targets health care professionals and those working in the drug and alcohol area as well as the broader community and PWID themselves to tackle stigma and discrimination in a thought-provoking and innovative manner. Book a training session or find out more by contacting


Putting Together the Puzzle-Stigma, Discrimination and Injecting Drug Use: A training module for health care professionals and students was uniquely designed to be delivered by the affected community, providing a human face to PWID. It utilises real life examples to demonstrate to health care professionals and students on the impact of stigma and discrimination in health care settings as well as strategies to address and challenge stigma and discrimination. (link to post)
Why Wouldn't I Discriminate Against all of Them? A Report on Stigma and Discrimination Towards the Injecting Drug User Community details the historical social development of PWID-related stigma and describes how it manifests in contemporary society.
Afternoons With Max Marshall is a short film exploring drugs, discrimination and the media, used as a tool to prompt discussion around the role of the media and challenge stereotypes, particularly with younger people. A subsequent video resource; Stigma, Discrimination and Injecting Drug Users discusses the impact of stigma and discrimination in the health care sector and includes commentary by well-known and highly considered supporters including Dr Michael Kidd AM, Chair of the Government Ministerial Advisory Committee on BBV and STI and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Flinders University and Dr Helen Watchirs, ACT Discrimination and Human Rights Commissioner.
Discrimination: Know Your Rights is an online resource for PWID, providing strategies to address conflict situations. By recording incidents of discrimination, it also provides the sector with ongoing research evidence on where discrimination is occurring.
Health care professionals and their clients can only benefit when stigma and discrimination is challenged. It will not be a short term process, however the benefits will warrant the investment. Positive health-related outcomes include: Improved quality of treatment experience for PWID and/or those living with BBVs; Increased BBV treatment access and treatment uptake; Improved health outcomes; Improved relationships and increased trust (shown to decrease incidence of sharing and reuse of injecting equipment); Increased BBV testing; and Reduced BBV transmission – particularly within highly marginalised priority populations

Stigma, Discrimination and People Who Inject Drugs

Stigma and discrimination targeted at people who inject drugs can impact on our ability to access health services, it can effect on our day-to-day lives, and it can pull us down. This video is an initiative of NUAA’s Peer Participation Project takes us some of the way toward identifying and challenging stigma and discrimination.

Change is possible. Making complaints when you are discriminated against or treated badly, writing letters to politicians and newspapers about policy and current events and commenting on blogs are great ways to right some wrongs. There are many ways to make your voice heard, so get started!


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