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HIV service provider stigma: Its existence and associations with provider characteristics

Michael Reece, PhD, MPH1, Stephen E. Karpiak, PhD2, Amanda Tanner, MPH1, and Kate Coffey, MSEd1. (1) Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, HPER Building 116, 1025 E. Seventh Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-4801, 812*855-0068, mireece@indiana.edu, (2) AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, 230 West 38th Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10018

Background: While there has been considerable work on stigma and its impact on individuals living with HIV/AIDS, virtually no published research has explored whether service providers encounter a form of stigma that is unique to their professional role and that results from their associations with the epidemic, regardless of their HIV serostatus. Methods: Using an Internet-based questionnaire to assess the existence and characteristics of stigma among HIV-related professionals, data were collected from 836 HIV service providers in 48 states. Results: Psychometric properties of the stigma scale indicated strong support for a two factor model of professional HIV-related stigma with a high level of internal consistency (alpha = .95). Almost 30% reported frequent unease resulting from their beliefs regarding othersí perceptions of their HIV serostatus and sexual orientation (factor one). About 15% reported frequent levels of embarrassment over associations with certain characteristics of the HIV epidemic (factor two). Stigma was higher among providers identifying as heterosexual (p < .05), and there were significant differences in stigma level based on the types of clients served and the types of programs delivered. Stigma levels were also associated with the providersí perceptions of the efficacy of their work. Conclusions: HIV-related professionals experience some level of stigma as a result of their work. While efforts have traditionally been aimed at reducing stigma among individuals living with HIV and in the general population, mechanisms should also be identified to assist HIV care and prevention providers in coping with the unique stigmas which they encounter.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Providers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Health Care Delivery, Services, and Providers

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA