Stigma experiences among substance users with HIV

SE Stutterheim, L. Lechner, G. Kok, A. Bos

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


    Two conditions that are highly stigmatized are substance use and HIV. In this qualitative study, we
    investigated, through thematic analyses of verbatim transcripts, 15 substance users’ experiences with
    receiving their diagnosis, making disclosure decisions, and receiving and dealing with stigmatizing
    reactions. Motivations to disclose included being in poor health, having visible symptoms, others
    seeing HIV medication, poor medication access without disclosure, being asked directly, emotional
    catharsis, believing that the target will maintain confidentiality, notifying a partner of risk, and
    disclosing to reduce stigma. Reasons for concealment were needing time to process the diagnosis,
    fear of stigmatization, previous negative experiences with disclosure, being advised to conceal, not
    wanting to burden others, and believing that one’s HIV is irrelevant. Stigmatizing reactions from others
    included increased physical distance, excessive precautions, social avoidance, abandonment,
    rejection, exclusion, judgment, blame, name calling, gossip, denial, and requests to conceal status.
    Layered stigma was prevalent and substance use stigma was reported to be greater than HIV stigma.
    Emotional and social consequences were reported, as were a number of coping strategies. Findings
    are important input for stigma reduction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
    Event29th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society: Principles of Behaviour Change in Health and Illness - Grand Resort, Limassol, Cyprus
    Duration: 1 Sept 20155 Sept 2015


    Conference29th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society
    Abbreviated titleEHPS 2015
    Internet address


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