AIDS Stigma Among Health Professionals in Puerto Rico

Investigator: Torsten Neilands, PhD
Sponsor: University of Puerto Rico

Location(s): Puerto Rico


AIDS Stigma, or negative meanings surrounding people living with HIV/AIDS, has been fostered by myths and false notions surrounding the epidemic (Herek & Glunt, 1988, p. 886). AIDS Stigma has multiple negative psychosocial consequences including anxiety, depression, disruption of family dynamics, physical and emotional violence, loss of social support and the deterioration of productive relations with health-related Professionals (Chesney & Smith, 1999; Kalichman, 1998b; Nord, 1997). Given the growing number of HIV cases Among the Latino community in general, and Puerto Ricans in specific, it is necessary to address the eradication of AIDS Stigma, particularly Among Professionals who interact with HIV+ individuals such as those in Health related fields (Nord, 1997). AIDS Stigma has been documented Among Health services providers such as doctors, nurses, mental Health Professionals, social workers and other caregivers (Acuff, et al., 1999; Gordon, et al., 1993; Herek & Glunt, 1988; Rizzo, 2002; Silverman, 1993; Stevenson & Storhm Kitchener, 2000; Trezza, 1994; Ventura, 1999). These stigmatizing attitudes towards HIV+ people are unfortunate, especially when research has reported those who feel stigmatized by Health Professionals face problems accessing optimal Health services (Link & Phelan, 2001; Valdiserri, 2002; Weiss & Ramakrishna, 2001). As recently as 2002 stigmatizing attitudes Among Health Professionals in Puerto Rico have been documented by people living with HIV/AIDS. Findings suggest the need to address AIDS Stigma through effective interventions that incorporate other stigmas surrounding the epidemic such as negative attitudes towards sexual orientation, drug users, and women. in order to do so, Stigma combinations surrounding HIV/AIDS Among Health Professionals must be explored. The main objectives of this research application are to:

  1. to explore stigmatizing attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS Among Health Professionals in Puerto Rico,
  2. to explore the interaction of other stigmatizing attitudes towards gender, sexual orientation, and drug use with AIDS Stigma in the same population, and
  3. to refine and pilot test an intervention module for Stigma reduction geared towards these Professionals.

These objectives will be achieved through the implementation of a sequential mixed method study using qualitative in-depth interviews and a quantitative self-administered questionnaire addressing AIDS Stigma.