AIDS stigma in health services in the Eastern Caribbean

Sociol Health Illn. 2009 Jan;31(1):17-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2008.01133.x. Epub 2008 Oct 2.


Stigma obstructs HIV/AIDS prevention and care worldwide, including in the Caribbean, where the prevalence of AIDS is second only to sub-Saharan Africa. To contextualise the experience of AIDS stigma in health services in Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, we conducted eight focus groups with 51 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), families, and service providers. Quasi-deductive content analysis revealed consonance with Western and Northern conceptualisations of AIDS stigma wherein stigma is enacted upon marginalized populations and reinforced through psycho-sociological processes comparing 'in' and 'out' groups. Socially constructed to be physically contagious and socially deviant, PLHA are scorned by some service providers, especially when they are perceived to be gay or bisexual. PLHA and providers identified passive neglect and active refusal by hospital and clinic staff to provide care to PLHA. Institutional practices for safeguarding patient confidentiality are perceived as marginally enforced. Interventions are needed to reduce provider stigma so the public will access HIV testing and PLHA will seek treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / ethnology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Attitude of Health Personnel* / ethnology
  • Caribbean Region
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Grenada
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Tape Recording
  • Trinidad and Tobago