Shadow on my heart: a culturally grounded concept of HIV stigma among chinese injection drug users

J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. Jan-Feb 2012;23(1):52-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jana.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Sep 15.


Although stigma is a significant barrier to HIV prevention and treatment globally, the culture-specific psychosocial processes through which HIV-infected Chinese experience stigma have not been described. This study used grounded theory to explore the social and psychological processes of HIV-related stigma experienced by Chinese injection drug users and proposed a culture-specific concept of stigma. The focus group had six participants, and we conducted 16 individual interviews. The core category emerged as "Double struggle: Returning to normalcy." Key concepts were dual stigma and family support, while keeping secrets and active drug use were factors influencing the struggle to return to normalcy. Family responsibility played an important role in bringing family members together to cope with HIV. Recommendations for Chinese health care providers include leveraging the traditional Chinese concept of family responsibility to establish a family alliance in response to the dual stigma and providing psychological counseling and education in treatment clinics.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Stereotyping*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous*