AIDS stigma combinations in a sample of Puerto Rican health professionals: qualitative and quantitative evidence

Nelson Varas-Díaz, Souhail Malavé-Rivera, Francheska Cintrón-Bou


The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to impact Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region with growing numbers of cases each year. The stigma that surrounds the epidemic has harmful implications on the health of people living with the disease and public health in general, fostering health deterioration and new infections. When this stigma emanates from health professionals it can severely hinder access to health services, which are crucial for those living with the virus. Still, AIDS stigma has been previously explored among this population as a separate phenomenon from other pre-existing stigmas. This has yielded a limited perspective on the complexity of how AIDS stigma is manifested. In light of this limitation, the main objectives of this study were: 1) to document AIDS stigma among a sample of Puerto Rican health professionals and health professionals in training and 2) to explore the combination of other stigmas (sexism, homophobia, and negative attitudes towards drug users) with that associated to HIV/AIDS. Through an exploratory design, using a mixed method approach (qualitative in-depth interviews and quantitative questionnaires), we explored the objectives in a sample of 501 health professionals and health professionals in training. The results evidenced the combinations of other stigmas with that of HIV/AIDS. Homophobia yielded the strongest correlation and was the best predictor of AIDS stigma. These results evidence the need to develop interventions to reduce AIDS stigma and its combinations among this population.


AIDS Stigma; Health Professionals; Puerto Rico; Mixed Methods

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Published by the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus
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