Stigma among HIV-positive women complex and overlapping

November 22, 2011

In this week's PLoS Medicine, Mona Loutfy of the University of Toronto, Canada and colleagues report their study examining experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.

Using focus groups, the researchers found that women attributed their experiences of stigma and discrimination to HIV-related stigma, sexism and , racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work. The coping strategies they used included resilience (at a micro level), social networks and support groups (at a meso level), and challenging stigma (at a macro level).

The authors state that: "Overall, this investigation highlights a complex system of intersectional stigma that necessitates multifaceted strategies to promote health equity for HIV-positive women. Findings can inform treatment, care, and support guidelines and practice recommendations for health care practitioners, social workers, and support workers, and mental health specialists working with HIV-positive women."

Explore further: International team explores the stigma surrounding abortion

More information: Logie CH, James L, Tharao W, Loutfy MR (2011) HIV, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, and Sex Work: A Qualitative Study of Intersectional Stigma Experienced by HIV-Positive Women in Ontario, Canada. PLoS Med 8(11): e1001124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124

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