Migrants and HIV stigma: findings from the Stigma Index Study (UK)

Martha Chinouya, Anthony Hildreth, Deborah Goodall, Peter Aspinall, Alistair Hudson

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    This paper is based on data collected in 2009 for the international Stigma Index Study which measured the experiences of stigma among participants living with HIV in the UK. Data were collected using a self-completed survey questionnaire and focus group discussions. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS, while qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis. The Stigma Index attempts to establish a baseline for documenting the experience of stigma and discrimination by people living with HIV while also acting as an advocacy tool whose power lay in the involvement of people living with HIV in the design of study instruments and data collection. Participants were recruited through collaborations with a broad range of UK HIV support organisations. The ethics protocols used were those described in the Stigma Index guidebook. A total of 867 people living with HIV took part, of whom 276 described themselves as ‘immigrants’. Most of this ‘migrant’ subsample (70%) was women. Nearly, all (91%) identified as heterosexual, while 9% were attracted to someone of the same sex as them. Socioeconomic deprivation was a key theme and they reported other stigmatised chronic conditions in addition to HIV. It is not possible to ascertain from the questionnaire, the migrants’ countries of origin and length of stay in the UK. Control of information about HIV was critically managed, with respect to family and partners. Felt stigma increased anxieties about personal safety, particularly among men. Strategies for safeguarding against the negative impact of stigma included avoiding social gatherings, intimacy, and clinical and HIV social care settings. Most participants were unaware of policies and declarations that protected them as persons living with HIV. Specific recommendations include creating awareness about rights as enshrined in various legal frameworks that protect the right of people living with HIV, which has been reconfigured as a ‘disability’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-42
    JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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