HIV-related stigma is one of the most formidable obstacles facing people living with HIV and their advocates. Stigma is a product of misinformation about HIV and broad societal acceptance of certain human characteristics or behaviors as inherently bad or spoiling of individual identity. HIV-related stigma is a significant public health problem; it creates very real obstacles for people living with HIV in obtaining treatment, housing, education, and employment, all of which are essential to their health. Because HIV, and the behaviors or identities associated with it—such as being gay or using drugs—are still stigmatized, confirming or disclosing one’s HIV status is still widely perceived as socially dangerous. In short, HIV stigma discourages testing as well as prevention methods such as condom-use, and it creates confusion about how HIV is and is not transmitted. HIV-related stigma is also tied to—and compounded by—stigma and discrimination associated with poverty, race, sex, and gender identity. The resources on this issue examine the magnitude and causes of HIV-related stigma and its impact on the health, rights, and well-being of people living with HIV, with a focus on those who face additional marginalization, such as women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and those living in poverty.
Women, HIV, and Stigma: Results from a National Survey, American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)
Between March 22 and April 17, 2007, amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, conducted an online survey to assess stigma facing HIV-positive women in the United States. The survey revealed that HIV-positive women continue to face a high level of stigma in both their personal and their professional lives. The results showed pervasive negative views of HIV-positive women and a high level of discomfort interacting with them. Click here to download.
Male Patient Perceptions of HIV Stigma in Healthcare Context, Lance S. Rintamaki et al.
This study examines the experiences of 50 male U.S. military veterans living with HIV and their perceptions of HIV stigma within health care contexts. Participants described a variety of behaviors performed by health care personnel as stigmatizing, ranging from nonverbal cues to blatant discrimination and physical abuse. These findings are particularly useful in that they (1) focus on health care personnel's actual behaviors rather than their attitudes and beliefs about HIV-positive patients, (2) include patients' perceptions regarding the behaviors of both clinical and nonclinical health care personnel, and (3) identify behaviors patients perceive as stigmatizing that are unique to health care contexts. Combined, these findings provide health care personnel a tangible list of behaviors that should either be avoided or further explained to HIV-positive patients, as they may be interpreted as stigmatizing. The study also discusses the prevalence of stigma and how stigma can constitute a public health problem by preventing people living with HIV from accessing care, creating additional stress and health problems, and preventing people with HIV from disclosing their status.
Click here to download.