Understanding the Effects of Multiple Stigmas Among Formerly Incarcerated HIV-Positive African American Men

AIDS Educ Prev. 2015 Apr;27(2):167-79. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2015.27.2.167.


Race, HIV, and incarceration, as individual and intersecting markers of social identity, have associated stigma. While some research has indicated multiple burdens of stigma can be additive, there remains a lack of investigation relative to the effects of stigma among minorities who experience both HIV and incarceration. Therefore, the current study examines the impact of multiple forms of stigma via a series of ethnographic interviews (n = 46) conducted with 12 African American men over a one-year period. Results suggest that intersecting forms of stigma can have a severe impact on the general health, mental health, and the reintegration process of formerly incarcerated HIV-positive men. Additionally, participants often conceptualized all forms of stigma separately, which resulted in compounded burden of navigation. The experience of multiple forms of stigma was also often internalized as self-stigma whereby HIV-positive individuals with a history of incarceration assumed dominant norms related to both HIV and incarceration.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Seropositivity / ethnology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Stigma*
  • United States