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Empowerment Programme Framework – a guide to tackling internalised stigma


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Today we are launching the Fast-Track Cities London Empowerment Programme Framework. This framework sets out a best practice guide to running empowerment programmes aimed at tackling internalised stigma for people living with HIV.

The framework was  jointly produced by a diverse community of practice with a wealth of expertise and research in HIV and empowerment.

logos from the community of practice to tackle internal stigma

The Empowerment Programme Framework is part of the plans to end stigma and discrimation towards people living with HIV in the capital. Read more about these plan here.

What is internalised stigma?

Internalised stigma refers to negative beliefs and feelings someone living with HIV might have about themselves. A person with an HIV status can feel shame, guilt, low self-esteem, or unlovable. They may have a negative perception of themselves, may feel like an outsider, and are likely to experience stigma or rejection.

On top of this, a person may also have other characteristics that they may believe make them less valuable within their community, such as gender identity, faith-based identity, sexuality, ethnicity, immigration status, drug use or sex work. The mix of these stigmas can make someone feel like even more of an outsider. This can result in people not seeking necessary care or treatment or withdrawing from society.

The Empowerment Programme Framework

In Spring 2021, Fast-Track Cities London Stigma Sub-Group, using the feedback and engagement on the stigma plans, decided to turn to the expertise of the HIV sector to form a community of practice. A community of practice is a group of people who share a common concern or have a shared interest or expertise in a topic.

Eight organisations with specialist experience in supporting people living with HIV came together to form the community of practice. The community of practice developed a flexible framework for an Empowerment Programme for people living with HIV who experience internalised stigma.

Fast-Track Cities London is now launching a fund so that organisations can use the framework to support people living with HIV to have the necessary skills and techniques to develop resilience and confidence to tackle internalised stigma.

The framework describes five outcomes that organisations need to deliver for people living with HIV. People living with HIV completing the empowerment programme must have:

  • developed a support network
  • understood the causes of internalised stigma
  • understood what HIV is, U=U and living well with HIV
  • built self-acceptance, self-esteem and an individual sense of power
  • developed skills including self-advocacy, public advocacy and ambassador skills

An organisation called Healthy Dialogues facilitated the fortnightly meetings and pulled together the final Empowerment Programme Framework.

Read the full Empowerment Programme Framework. The framework has further details on each of the outcomes for people living with HIV, templates and case studies.

Read more about London’s stigma plans here.

Read about the fund for organisations to deliver the Empowerment Programme Framework here.

For more information email hlp.londonftci@nhs.net.

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