Understanding HIV-Related Stigma Among Women in the Southern United States: A Literature Review

AIDS Behav. 2017 Jan;21(1):12-26. doi: 10.1007/s10461-016-1504-9.


Societal stigmatization of HIV/AIDS due to assumptions about transmission and associated behaviors plays a substantial role in the psychosocial well-being of people living with this chronic illness, particularly for women in traditionally conservative geographic regions. Known for social conservatism, the Southern United States (US) holds the highest incidence rate of HIV infection in the US. A systematic search of four databases was used to identify 27 relevant scientific articles pertaining to HIV-related stigma among women living with HIV/AIDS in the Southern US. These studies revealed a rudimentary understanding of stigma sources, effects, and stigma-reduction interventions in this population. Due to the cultural specificity of stigma, further differentiation of stigma in discrete sectors of the South as well as a dialogue about the moral implications of stigma is necessary to lay the groundwork for patient-centered interventions to mitigate the destructive effects of stigma experienced by women in this region.

Keywords: Discrimination; HIV/AIDS; Health disparities; South; Stigma; Women’s health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Social Stigma*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Stereotyping
  • United States
  • Women / psychology*