News & Events

The Science of Stigma: Understanding and Addressing HIV Stigma

Posted on November 04, 2019

Source: NIH

The Science of Stigma: Understanding and Addressing HIV Stigma

"Since the HIV epidemic emerged in the 1980s, extraordinary progress has been made in understanding, treating, and preventing HIV. Yet stigma about the condition and people living with it persists. NIAID Now spoke with Dianne Rausch, Ph.D., director of the Division of AIDS Research (DAR) at NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, and Gregory Greenwood, Ph.D., DAR program officer and stigma expert, about HIV-related stigma, its effects on health, and how research is informing strategies to reduce stigma and improve HIV outcomes.

Let’s start with the basics. What is stigma?

Dr. Rausch: Stigma can generally be defined as “a mark of shame or discredit.” Anything different from the norm can create stigmatizing attitudes or feelings, and these can stimulate negative behaviors.

Dr. Greenwood: People may experience stigma related to health conditions, such as HIV and mental illness, and sociodemographic characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Certain behaviors or experiences, such as substance use and sex work, also can be stigmatized. Many people experience stigma related to more than one of these categories. The term “intersectional stigma” refers to the intersection and interaction of these multiple stigmatized identities."

Continue Reading