Male patient perceptions of HIV stigma in health care contexts

Lance S. Rintamaki, Allison M. Scott, Kama A. Kosenko, Robin E. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Individuals living with HIV may have a heightened sensitivity to the behaviors of others that may signal bias or discrimination. Identifying and avoiding these potentially problematic behaviors may be especially important for service providers, such as health care personnel, who regularly interact with HIV-positive clientele. This study examines the experiences of 50 male American military veterans living with HIV and their perceptions of HIV stigma within health care contexts. Participants described a variety of behaviors performed by health care personnel that they perceived to be indicative of HIV stigma, ranging from ambiguous nonverbal cues (e.g., minimal eye contact) to blatant discrimination (e.g., physical abuse of HIV-positive patients). These findings extend previous research on HIV stigma in health care settings by (1) focusing on health care personnel's actual behaviors rather than their attitudes and beliefs about HIV-positive patients, (2) including patients' perceptions regarding the behaviors of both clinical and nonclinical health care personnel, and (3) identifying behaviors patients perceive as stigmatizing that are unique to health care contexts. Combined, these findings provide health care personnel a tangible list of behaviors that should either be avoided or further explained to HIV-positive patients, as they may be interpreted as stigmatizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-969
Number of pages14
JournalAIDS Patient Care and STDs
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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