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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

HIV/AIDS Issues & Stigma

Stigmatization can cause
denial of treatment to disease patients

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Main topics can be found within the left column; sub-topics and/or research reports can be found near the bottom of this page.  Thank you


"As the United States enters the second decade of the AIDS epidemic, attitudes and beliefs concerning HIV-disease will play an increasingly important role in shaping societal response. Americans will be called upon to bear the epidemic's considerable economic costs and, increasingly, to respond individually to persons with AIDS in their schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and families. AIDS-related initiatives and referenda will appear with greater frequency on electoral ballots, and AIDS-related policies will be included in candidates' campaign platforms. Consequently, understanding public reactions will be critically important for educating Americans about the epidemic, promoting enlightened public policy, and fostering compassion for persons infected with HIV.

Public attitudes surrounding AIDS are shaped by the complex characteristics of the epidemic. AIDS is a transmissible and, to date, lethal disease; personal reactions to it inevitably are influenced by concerns about individuals' own well-being and that of their loved ones. AIDS also is a highly stigmatized illness. Many persons perceived to be infected with HIV have been fired from their jobs, driven from their homes and socially isolated (Herek, 1990; Herek & Glunt, 1988). This stigma results both from the physical characteristics of AIDS (e.g., its negative effect on physical appearance and ability for social interaction; its communicability; its perceived lethality) and its psychosocial characteristics (i.e., its prevalence among such already-stigmatized groups as gay men, IV-drug users, Blacks, and Hispanics). In particular, attitudes toward gay men appear to exert an important influence on reactions to AIDS (e.g., Herek, 1990; Pryor, Reeder, & Vinacco, 1989; Stipp & Kerr, 1989;)." AIDS-RELATED ATTITUDES IN THE UNITED STATES: A PRELIMINARY CONCEPTUALIZATION


Document Name & Link to Document


File Size /pdf
I am a person who Matters: A support group for children whose Parents have HIV or AIDS

The children’s support group is designed to help children cope with the emotional issues involved when a parent has HIV or AIDS.  The aim is to assist children first in coping, second in protecting themselves and others from becoming positive, and third, to bringing their insight to advocacy work to fight for social change.


Impact of HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination for Prevention

Stigma and discrimination are enemies of public health. HIV/AIDS-related stigmatization and discrimination threaten the effectiveness of HIV prevention and care programs

260 kb pdf

Incarnating Stigma: Visual Images of the Body with HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS has been documented as a stigmatizing condition due to its association with sickness, contagion, and bodily death.  Still, further attention needs to be given to the role that the body plays in this process of stigmatization.

406 kb pdf

Indian Women and HIV/AIDS

This chapter considers the situation of women and HIV/AIDS in a country which is well into an AIDS epidemic. Important vectors of the HIV virus in India have been previously identified as migrant workers, long distance truck drivers, commercial sex workers, blood donors, and IV drug users. The new vector is the ordinary Indian mother.


International accounts of AIDS death by stoning

Further to my posting earlier today in regard to the reported stoning to death of an AIDS widow in Andhra Pradesh, I can now report that  due to the efforts of two journalists in India the story has been reported today


International contacts-HIV/AIDS stigma issues

Provided by the United Nations

260 kb pdf

International Red Cross launches campaign-stigma

The international Red Cross announced Monday that it is
launching a new campaign to tackle the stigma and discrimination
faced by people with HIV/AIDS -  prejudice that it says stokes
the worldwide epidemic.


Key Messages concerning AIDS stigma

Stigma and discrimination violate basic human rights and thus should be prevented, eliminated or reduced wherever they occur and in whatever forms

Pdf 42 kb

Living with Haemophilia and AIDS

Damon also asked me to write this book in an attempt to dispel the inclination he found in so many straight people to classify and vilify people with AIDS. The snigger behind the hand. The dismissive grunt. He wanted me to warn against the brutally thoughtless assumptions, which are destroying the credibility of AIDS as a tragic disease for all humankind.


Making AIDS our Problem

Young People and the development challenge in South Africa

534 kb pdf

Measuring HIV/AIDS related Stigma Stigma, ‘a powerful and discrediting social label that radically changes the way individuals view themselves and are viewed as person’, can be felt (internal stigma),  leading to an unwillingness to seek help and access resources, or enacted (external stigma), leading to discrimination on the basis of HIV status or association with someone who is living with HIV/AIDS 192 kb pdf

National AIDS Prevention and Control -NACO

In India the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic is now 15 years old. Within this short period it has emerged as one of the most serious public health problems in the country



At the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in 2006, world leaders reaffirmed that “the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” Yet, 25 years into the AIDS epidemic, the “essential element” remains the missing piece in the fight against AIDS. This declaration, endorsed by 24 nongovernmental organizations and networks around the world, affirms that, now more than ever, human rights should occupy the center of the global struggle against HIV and AIDS. Pdf 315 kb
Operational Research Agenda For Stigma and HIV/AIDS in Africa Out of these activities and process, the operational research agenda below was developed in the form of research questions and ideas for research and action. It has been extracted in its current form for easy reference, from the report of the regional consultation meeting. Pdf 118 kb

Prejudice, Discrimination and HIV


Many people with HIV experience problems in their everyday lives purely because of the virus. People fear – and can face - rejection from friends and family and difficulties at work. They may get worse treatment from health and social care services. Sometimes their own communities appear to turn their backs on them. As a result, as this report shows, many people choose to conceal their HIV diagnosis for fear of the possible consequences. This can result in other problems; increased anxiety; difficulty in making relationships; lack of access to information or services; unexplained absences from work; misdiagnosis of health problems. Some people choose not to get tested at all because they fear the difficulties a positive diagnosis could bring, thus risking long term damage to their health and possibly even death. This understandable concealment also means that the real extent of discrimination remains hidden. Pdf 206 kb

Quarantine of PLWHAS in Mumbai Airport

Quarantine of PLWHAS in Mumbai Airport was just not enough to demonstrate the level of discrimination against PLHAs by the Maharashtra police.


Racism, Racial Discrimination and HIV/AIDS


It is an increasingly acknowledged reality today that through out the world those most deeply affected by the HIV epidemic are also the most severely disadvantaged, whether on grounds of race, economic status, age, sexual orientation or gender.  As in the case of most other stigmatized health conditions such as tuberculosis, cholera and plague, fundamental structural inequalities, social prejudices and social exclusion explain why women, children, sexual minorities and people of colour are disproportionately impacted by AIDS and the accompanying stigma and discrimination.  The nearly two decades old global history of the HIV epidemic reinforces yet again the well documented interaction of disease, stigma and `spoiled’ social identities based on race, ethnicity, sexuality and so on.  

Racism, stigma and discrimination

Fighting HIV-related intolerance: exposing the links between racism, stigma and discrimination

Pdf 88 kb

Reducing AIDS-related Stigma and Discrimination in Indian Hospitals


AIDS-related stigma and discrimination is a pervasive problem worldwide. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in India, as elsewhere, face stigma and discrimination in a variety of contexts, including the household, community, workplace, and health care setting. Research in India has shown that stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people and those perceived to be infected are common in hospitals and act as barriers to seeking and receiving critical treatment and care services (UNAIDS 2001). Pdf 342 kb

Religious Leaders in the AIDS battle

When PSI/Guinea Deputy Director Thierno Diallo was doing his first HIV/AIDS workshop for Islamic leaders in his country in the mid-90’s, he was so enraged the president of one Islamic association with a condom demonstration that the man slapped him across the face

272 kb pdf

Responding to HIV+ Stigma in Clinical Settings Power Point Presentation 112 kb
Rooting Out AIDS-Related Stigma and Discrimination A debate over how best to weed out AIDS-related stigma and resulting discrimination is growing within international health circles, as experts try to address these stubborn obstacles to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. While there is increased consensus that HIV/AIDS programs must tackle these issues directly, researchers have yet to find an effective means of tracking changes in attitudes toward infected people  

School-related Issues Among HIV-Infected Children

Many children with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are surviving long enough to reach school age. This study describes issues related to school attendance and disclosure of HIV infection in a population of HIV-infected children.


Significance of AIDS Mental Illness and HIV/AIDS both share a ‘ stigma’, however the ‘stigma’ associated with HIV/AIDS is more severe than that associated with any other life-threatening condition and extends beyond the disease itself to providers, and even volunteers involved with the care of people living with HIV. I believe through my 'stigmata' theory that HIV/AIDS sufferers must also experience ‘emotional stigmata’.  

Social stigma of HIV/AIDS

From the moment scientists identified HIV, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fuelling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected, as well as those living with HIV. It goes without saying that HIV are as much about social phenomena as they are about biological and medical concerns


Social Stigma, HIV/AIDS Knowledge, and Sexual Risk


A cross-sectional study of 481 sexually active, heterosexual late adolescents showed that: (a) heterosexual people may be distancing themselves from HIV/AIDS because of its association with the gay community while also engaging in greater behavioral risk for HIV/AIDS; and (b) the ways a person comes to know about HIV/AIDS (perceived knowledge, passive classroom learning, media influence, and knowing people with HIV/AIDS) can be related to sexual risk behavior through the operation of two mediating variables, condom self-efficacy and perceived HIV/AIDS risk. The variables studied are closely linked with Stage 1 factors in the AIDS Risk Reduction Model. Implications for understanding how stigmatizing can affect behavior are discussed, as well as implications for education in HIV/AIDS related issues. Pdf 229 kb

Stigma Africa Info Bulletin

Addressing HIV-related stigma and resulting discrimination in Africa: a three-country study in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia

Pdf 53 kb

Stigma and AIDS in Latin America.

All over the world and throughout the Americas, HIV and AIDS have shown themselves capable of bringing out the best and the worst in people

Pdf 93 kb

Stigmatization & Discrimination

From the moment scientists identified HIV and AIDS, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fuelling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected, as well as those living with HIV or AIDS.


Stigma and discrimination

The Declaration of Commitment adopted by the member states in the United Nation took special note of the need to address stigma and discrimination in order to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS


Stigma and discrimination are fuelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada Reducing the stigma and discrimination related to HIV is the key to reducing the worst effects of the epidemic in Canada, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said today at the national launch of their Plan of Action for Canada to Reduce HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma and Discrimination. “Federal and provincial governments in Canada have a legal obligation to ensure that the rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS are respected,” said Glenn Betteridge, Senior Policy Analyst at the Legal Network. “If they do not fulfill this obligation, they are allowing the stigma and discrimination related to HIV to continue to worsen the impact of AIDS in Canada.” Pdf 376 kb
Stigma and the SPNS YMSM of Color Initiative "The mark of shame is found everywhere, not just while dealing with HIV. It starts at home, where people damn the less fortunate for either having a poor education or struggling to make dead ends meet by any means possible." The above words, spoken by an outreach worker whose job is to persuade young men who have sex with men (YMSM) to be tested for HIV and to access medical care, neatly captures how stigma can affect the work of those trying to slow the spread of the disease.  

Stigma: Beliefs Determine Behavior

Many people are calling urgently for laws and policies to curtail 
or prevent HIV/AIDS stigma. This is a call for changes in structures.
 It is also a useless exercise until such time as we examine the 
roots of stigma, and understand it's very nature. Then we can build
 structures to support the understandings and mechanisms that 
alleviate stigma.


Stigma, discrimination and HIV/AIDS

Stigmatisation in many cases leads to discrimination, where 
people are attacked or treated badly purely on the basis of 
being positive. According to the Joint United Nations Programme 
on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2002), "the stigma and discrimination 
that people with HIV/AIDS face are unusually multiple and 
complex." It further states that "individuals tend not to be 
stigmatised and discriminated against only on the grounds of 
HIV/AIDS status, but also in accordance with what this 
connotes." Thus, women with HIV/AIDS may be doubly 
stigmatised both as 'women' and as 'people living with HIV/AIDS'
 when their identity becomes known or men who have sex with
 men living with HIV/AIDS may be stigmatised both because of 
their sexual practice and their status.


Stigma, HIV/AIDS and prevention of mother-to-child transmission

HIV/AIDS-related stigma has been a major stumbling block in addressing all aspects of HIV prevention, treatment and care across the globe,

148 kb pdf

Stigma stops HIV disclosure “We know that a substantial (but unknown) number of stable sexual relationships are between partners where one is HIV positive, but does not tell the other partner,” Dr Simbayi said. “Stigma is a very real part of these people's lives. Disclosing one's HIV status can be risky.”  “For example, our study in South Africa showed that 40% of people living with HIV/Aids had experienced discrimination and one in five had lost their homes or their jobs because of their HIV status.”  

Structural Barriers and Facilitators in HIV Prevention: A Review of International Research

This article provides an overview of a growing body of international research focusing on the structural and environmental factors that shape the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and create barriers and facilitators in relation to HIV-prevention programs.


The causes & Consequences of AIDS.

Presentation by Alan Whiteside

 1119 kb pdf

The Difficulties of Women living with HIV/AIDS

The epidemic was first recognized in men and early studies on psychosocial aspects of the infection were conducted with predominantly male samples. Women with HIV describe the health care provider's lack of knowledge and compassion as the most salient barrier to health care services


The economics of Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Workplace

Businesses that do develop ‘AIDS in the workplace’ interventions do not do so out of pure economic self-interest, as traditionally defined in cost-benefit analyses. Understanding these motivations can be key to encouraging businesses that have not yet developed their own workplace programs to do so

63 kb pdf

The Enigma of HIV/AIDS-related Stigma HIV/AIDS-related stigma is understood as a dynamic, multifaceted phenomenon that emerges from the intertwinement of human motivations, social structures, discourses and power relations. This understanding of stigma implies taking a broad approach when responding to stigma, calling attention to the importance of involving all levels of  the community. Community psychology and community counselling provide suitable frameworks for such an approach, as they emphasize local adaptation, empowerment and action research. Because the severity of the HIV/AIDS-epidemic requires urgent response, research and action need to be integrated. Ethical and methodological issues pertaining to the understanding, alleviation and prevention of HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Sub Saharan Africa are taken into consideration.  Pdf 712 kb


This section of the Paper aims to describe stigma and discrimination as experienced by specific populations affected by the HIV epidemic in Canada. The differentiation of populations affected by HIV/AIDS is a social and cultural construction. Such differentiation may itself contribute to discrimination, as when drug users or sex workers are vilified as "vectors of disease." On the other hand, the failure to recognize and acknowledge publicly the experiences of a particular population in the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic has also led to neglect and avoidance of that population's needs, as gay men have found in the "de-gaying" of AIDS


The links between human rights abuses & HIV transmission to girls

The catastrophe of HIV/AIDS in Africa, which has already claimed over 18 million lives on that continent, has hit girls and women harder than boys and men. In many countries of eastern and southern Africa, HIV prevalence among girls under age eighteen is four to seven times higher than among boys the same age, an unusual disparity that means a lower average age of death from AIDS, as well as more deaths overall, among women than men

607 kb pdf

The Psychology of Prejudice

From the persecution of Jewish people in 12th Century Englan to society’s attitude towards people with HIV and AIDS in 2002, prejudice, stigma, and the fear of the unkown have always been with us, playing a central role in dividing people, cultures and races. But what makes us prejudiced and how can we challenge it?

265 kb pdf

The Stigma Faced by People Living with HIV/AIDS Power Point Presentation 82 kb
The Stigma of Being HIV-Positive in Africa Fear of stigma can cause pregnant women to avoid HIV testing, the first step in reducing mother-to-child transmission. It may force mothers to expose babies to HIV infection through breast-feeding because the mothers do not want to arouse suspicion of their HIV status by using alternative feeding methods. Fear of stigma, and the resulting denial, may even inhibit condom use in HIV discordant couples. Further evidence of how stigma leads to denial is the way in which newspaper obituaries avoid mentioning HIV/AIDS as a cause of death.  

Towards a theory of disease stigma


As we have seen, there are problems with current theories of disease stigma. The literature on HIV/AIDS stigma tends to conflate the causes, functions and effects of stigma and reveals a continuing tension between individual and social explanations for the phenomenon. The conceptual inflation of stigma has resulted in a conflation of cause and effect – of stigma and discrimination. Also, the focus on finding generic ‘social control’4 explanations for stigma in the sociological literature, or on measuring the ‘amount’ of stigma through some generic measure in the psychological literature, have distracted us from the task of understanding the diversity of stigma in different contexts. To address these problems, we use theoretical work drawn from studies of racism and from ‘blaming’ models of disease stigma to define the concept more rigorously and to provide a means of understanding how stigmatisation operates as a process and how variation might occur. This will help us to research and address HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination more effectively. Pdf 188 kb

Trends in the HIV & AIDS Epidemic

Partly as a result of prevention efforts targeting those at highest risk, the epidemic had slowed considerably from the early years in the epidemic

327 kb pdf

Uganda: HIV and AIDS-related Discrimination, Stigmatization and Denial

This report describes research conducted on issues of HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, stigmatization, and denial in central and western Uganda. These issues, regarded by some as the ‘third epidemic,’ have fuelled anxiety and prejudice against those groups most affected by HIV/AIDS.

411 kb pdf

UN Facts and Figures


1999 World AIDS Campaign


UNAIDS Describes HIV/AIDS Discrimination

Stigmatization can cause denial of treatment to disease patients


Understanding and Challenging HIV Stigma-a toolkit The Toolkit is a resource collection of participatory educational exercises for use in raising awareness and promoting action to challenge HIV stigma 99 kb pdf

Understanding and challenging HIV stigma Toolkit for action

(Large Report-increase download time)


HIV stigma is rooted in both fear and ignorance. Research has shown that everyone has some information about HIV and AIDS, but few have enough information to overcome irrational fears associated with HIV and its transmission. Most people know that HIV can be transmitted through sex, but many people still have fears about risk through non-sexual, casual contact. For instance, they may avoid a fellow bus passenger who is coughing and suspected to be HIV positive for fear of ‘breathing in the virus’, or they may be fearful of cleaning the bed sheets of someone who is sick at home. This fear of casual contact will often lead to isolation and segregation, and PLHIV (or suspected to be living with HIV) may be given separate plates and cups, a separate room and so on.

Module A IV

Module B & C 


Pdf 1671 kb

Pdf 2099 kb

Understanding Human Rights & HIV

Series of lectures

308 kb pdf

Values and social representations of HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe: A multi-method investigation in five nations

Part #1

Part #2


Eastern Europe now shows the world’s steepest HIV curve (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, December 1999) and HIV rates are expected to increase substantially in a number of the countries in this region—excellent report!!


When AIDS became a chronic disease A basic tenet of medical anthropology is that illness is socially constructed. Agents of disease produce physical symptoms in people, but relatives, friends, and health professionals surrounding a sick person classify and interpret those symptoms to determine if he or she is ill. How a society interprets and classifies symptoms, prescribes treatment, and assigns the sick role vary with many factors, from geographic location to political economy.  

Why focusing on stigma is important

Stigma often leads to discrimination and this, inturn, leads to human rights violations for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.  Stigma and discrimination fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Pdf 46 kb

Why has the number 4 million HIV+ Failed to elicit the required response in India?

One major reason for the lack of adequate response, I would like to propose, is documentation. The pandemic lacks names and faces that people can recognize and empathize with. Why is it that the pandemic remains undocumented when all major newspapers, TV stations and other media repeatedly carry stories of the numbers infected and of the lives of people who are either infected or are helping the afflicted?


Widespread stigma undermining international AIDS promises "Stigma and discrimination are the two major hurdles that continue to hamper rehabilitation of people infected and affected by HIV in India," says India contributor Swapna Majumdar. "For women and girls the degree and impact of this stigma is even more acute."  

Woman Stoned to death because of HIV

Apart from raising questions about the effectively of our HIV/AIDS awareness programs, one such ghastly incident wipes out years of hard work with the positive community.


Women Being Cheated into Marriage by HIV-Positive Men

A SWAPO parliamentarian claims that some women are being cheated into marriage by men who lie about their HIV status.





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