Stigma Related to HIV and AIDS as a Barrier to Accessing Health Care in Thailand: A Review of Recent Literature

WHO South East Asia J Public Health. Jan-Mar 2013;2(1):12-22. doi: 10.4103/2224-3151.115829.

Abstract

Background: Thailand has been recognized as a regional leader in its response to the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic. However, low rates of voluntary testing, late entry into healthcare and delayed treatment continue to be major challenges. Stigma associated with HIV has been cited as a significant barrier preventing a successful and co-ordinated response. HIV-related stigma is known to exist among Thai communities. However, less is known about the attitudes of healthcare workers towards people living with HIV, and how this impacts health-seeking behaviours. This paper considers recent literature from Thailand (2007-2012), which discusses how HIV-related stigma affects health-seeking behaviour, as well as experiences of HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings.

Materials and methods: Information was collected from electronic databases and websites using the search terms 'HIV stigma healthcare'. Literature published in English, from 2007 onwards, discussing the relationship between HIV-related stigma and health-seeking behaviour, or HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings in Thailand was included in this review.

Results: There is scarcity of information assessing the forms of stigmatizing attitudes known to exist within the Thai healthcare sector. Literature highlights that key affected populations feel most stigmatized against. Interactions and negative experiences in government healthcare settings have contributed to a reduced engagement around seeking healthcare.

Discussion and conclusions: More research is needed on HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings in Thailand. Evidence suggests that interventions at the policy, environmental and individual levels are required to address stigma and protect the health and rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Publication types

  • Review