How stigmatizing is stigma in the life of people living with HIV: a study on HIV positive individuals from Chennai, South India

AIDS Care. 2005 Oct;17(7):795-801. doi: 10.1080/09540120500099936.


The nature and intensity of AIDS stigma are shaped by the social construction of the epidemic in different locales. Stigma therefore needs to be discussed in its cultural context. This clinic-based study aims at understanding stigma among 203 HIV positive individuals from Chennai, South India. The study throws light on the impact of stigma on the quality of life among these individuals. It also discusses the gender implications of stigma. This study brings out the findings that actual stigma experienced among those infected with HIV is much less (26%) as compared to the fear of being stigmatized or perceived stigma (97%). Internalizing of stigma was found to have a highly significant negative correlation with quality of life in the psychological domain and a significant negative correlation in the environmental domain. However individuals who did experience actual stigma seemed more determined to live and experience an above moderate quality of life. The implication of this study encourages HIV infected individuals to rise above stigma, avoid internalizing their stigmatized feelings and work toward a better quality of life. Health providers need to address these issues in their care for HIV infected individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stereotyping*