Knowledge of Legal Rights among Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico: Implications for Stigma Management

Souhail Malavé-Rivera, Blanca Ortiz-Torres, Nelson Varas-Díaz


Objective: To determine the level of understanding that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Puerto Rico have in terms of their own legal rights; to ascertain how the members of this population manage the violation/s of these rights in the event that such violations occurred. Methods: A mixed-method design was used to accomplish our objectives. One hundred and three participants completed a questionnaire; an in-depth interview was also conducted with 10 members of the sample group. Results: Quantitative results show that the most recognized rights among the participants were the right to have sex (n = 98; 95%) and the right to marry (n = 90; 87%). Most participants inaccurately indicated that PLWHA are forced by law to disclose their HIV serostatus both to their partners (n = 69; 67%) and to their physicians (n = 70; 68%). The results from qualitative analysis indicate that most of the participants had experienced discrimination, though none reported these occurrences to the legal authorities. Conclusion: Findings suggest that there is a need to improve the implementation of the public policy that protects PLWHA who live in Puerto Rico from discrimination. Future interventions aimed at reducing HIV-related stigma should consider providing information about legal rights and strategies for managing stigma and discrimination. Healthcare professionals play an important role in the promotion of the rights of PLWHA in Puerto Rico.


HIV; AIDS; Puerto Rico; Discrimination; Legal rights

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Published by the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus
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