Age, Stigma, Adherence and Clinical Indicators in HIV-Infected Women

Katryna McCoy*, Melinda Higgins, Julie Ann Zuñiga and Marcia McDonnell Holstad

Age, Stigma, Adherence and Clinical Indicators in HIV-Infected Women

HIV has become one of the most stigmatized health conditions in modern societies due
to its associations with risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse and fears related to its possible

Stigma is defined by the “co-occurrence of a label, a stereotype, separation,
status loss, or discrimination in a context where power is exercised.”

HIV-related stigma is “the collection of adverse attitudes, beliefs and actions
of others against people living with or affected by HIV, which may result in deleterious
internalized beliefs or actions taken by persons living with
HIV infection that may result in negative health outcomes.”

Recent shifts in the incidence of HIV infections among
ethnic minorities and women parallel the increasing susceptibility
of HIV-infected women to experience a stigmatizing event.

Among a cohort of diverse Canadians, Loutfy and colleagues found that Black
individuals experienced more stigma than Aboriginal, Asian,
Latin and White individuals, and the highest
rates of HIV-related stigma were reported by Black women and Asian men.

In the United States, HIV-infected women often experience higher rates
of “personal stigma than HIV-infected men.

HIV-infected women may experience multiple levels of stigma
due to the labels and stereotypes commonly
associated with being female, HIV-infected and socially marginalized.

African American women are particularly vulnerable to experiencing a stigmatizing
event due to their over-representation among women infected with HIV,
and due in part to the double standard that “blames” a woman’s behavior for becoming infected
with HIV while excusing the behaviors of HIV-infected men.

HIV/AIDS Res Treat Open J. 2015; SE(1): S1-S8. doi: 10.17140/HARTOJ-SE-1-101