Multiple discriminations experienced by people living with HIV in France: results from the ANRS-Vespa2 study

AIDS Care. 2014;26 Suppl 1:S97-S106. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2014.907385. Epub 2014 Apr 16.


Since the advent of AIDS, discrimination has remained at the core of the experience of people living with HIV (PLHIV). PLHIV who belong to minority groups are exposed to discrimination not only on the grounds of their HIV infection but also because of rejecting attitudes towards drug users, homosexuals and black people. This article aimed to measure the frequency of discrimination and assess its correlates among PLHIV in France. We used data from a national representative survey, the ANRS-Vespa2 study, conducted in France in 2011 among 3022 male and female HIV-positive patients followed at hospitals. Respondents answered a face-to-face questionnaire documenting their health status and living conditions. Discrimination was documented during the previous two years on the grounds of HIV infection, gender, country of birth, skin colour, sexual orientation, place of residence, and substance abuse in a variety of contexts. For each context, we performed logistic regressions on discrimination, controlling for socio-epidemiological group, age, education level and employment status. Discrimination is frequently experienced by PLHIV in France (26%), particularly when applying for a job (24%), interacting with family (11%) or seeking health services (8%). Women from sub-Saharan Africa reported the highest levels of discrimination, whereas heterosexual non-African men reported the lowest. Men who have sex with men experienced levels of discrimination that fell between those of these two groups. The major perceived reason for discrimination was HIV status (13%). Nationality, skin colour and sexual orientation were cited by 5% each, whereas gender was cited by 1% of respondents. Our analyses show that discrimination is a frequent and cross-cutting experience with differences across the various contexts and among the diverse subpopulations. The intertwining of HIV-related stigma with sexism, racism and homophobia needs to be addressed to understand why discrimination against PLHIV persists when the disease itself has greatly evolved.

Keywords: France; discrimination; quantitative data; structural approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • France
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Stigma*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult