Stigma Within the Context of HIV: Exploring the Concept

Tuesday, July 12, 2011: 2:25 PM

Aubrey Florom-Smith, BSN, RN
School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Joseph P. De Santis, PhD, ARNP, ACRN
School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe a working definition of HIV-related stigma.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able recognize that HIV-related stigma scales measure HIV-related stigma differently.

Purpose: Over one million people are living with HIV in the United States. HIV treatment and testing advances have shifted HIV infection from an acute to a chronic disease, allowing for an increased lifespan for those who test and treat early. However, stigma is a recurring challenge to HIV testing, care and prevention. Further, this challenge may be exacerbated by the unique effects of stigma among persons belong to traditional high risk groups. The purpose of this integrative literature review is to explore the concept of HIV-related stigma as experienced by individuals affected by HIV in the United States. A clearer understanding of this concept is the foundation for development of interventions that address HIV-related stigma.  

Methods: An integrative literature review was conducted of research studies in the United States that focused on HIV-related stigma from the years of 2000 to 2010. Literature from nursing and related disciplines were included. PubMed, CINAHL Plus, and PsychInfo were searched using the key search terms: HIV-related stigma, HIV related stigma, AIDS related stigma, adults, older adults, people living with HIV/AIDS, gay men, bisexual men, MSM, women, caregivers, African Americans, Hispanics, and health care providers.   

Results: HIV-related stigma is a universal phenomenon for people infected with HIV. A working definition is HIV-related stigma is the collection of adverse attitudes, beliefs and actions of others towards those affected by HIV and may result in deleterious beliefs or actions taken by persons living with HIV infection. Instruments developed and tested to measure HIV-related stigma have not been extensively used, compared, or correlated.

Conclusion: Future research with HIV-related stigma should focus on examining commonalities of HIV-related stigma across subgroups. Further development of the concept will afford nurses the opportunity to develop clinically-useful instruments and to design effective interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma.