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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 41  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 133-134

Combating HIV-related stigma: An experience from Eastern India

1 Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Pediatrics, Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission06-Mar-2017
Date of Acceptance30-Dec-2019
Date of Web Publication18-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sandeep Lahiry
Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, 244 B, Acharya J. C. Bose Road, Kolkata - 700 020, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijstd.IJSTD_29_17

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How to cite this article:
Lahiry S, Mukherjee A, Mukherjee A, Choudhury S, Sinha R. Combating HIV-related stigma: An experience from Eastern India. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2020;41:133-4

How to cite this URL:
Lahiry S, Mukherjee A, Mukherjee A, Choudhury S, Sinha R. Combating HIV-related stigma: An experience from Eastern India. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 12];41:133-4. Available from:


In 1987, Jonathan Mann, Director of World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Program on AIDS, had identified three distinct epidemics: (i) HIV infection, (ii) AIDS epidemic, and (iii) HIV/AIDS stigma.[1] AIDS-related stigma and discrimination were referred to as prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).[2] It can result in PLWHA being shunned by family, peers, and the wider community; poor treatment in healthcare and education settings; an erosion of rights; and psychological damage and can negatively affect the success of testing and treatment. AIDS-related stigma and discrimination exist worldwide, although they manifest themselves differently across countries, communities, religious groups, and individuals.

India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. In 2015, HIV prevalence in India was an estimated 0.26%.[3] The National AIDS Control Program-IV has made the elimination of stigma and discrimination a major focus.[3] HIV/AIDS Bill (2006) was finally passed in 2014 and provides for prohibiting discrimination in employment, education, healthcare, travel, and insurance. Moreover, it recognizes that a person living with HIV has the right to privacy and confidentiality about their HIV status.[4] However, PLWHA in India continue to experience high levels of discrimination in a variety of settings including households, the community, and workplaces. In 2016, Marfatia et al. found that 25% of HIV-infected people in India had been refused medical treatment due to strong evidence of stigma in the workplace.[5] Nearly 74% of patients did not disclose status for fear of discrimination.[5]

Hence, we tried to explore the stigmatizing pattern among PLWHA in Eastern India and assessed their coping strategies for quality of life (QOL) appraisal. A descriptive, cross-sectional study was undertaken among PLWHA attending HIV outpatient clinic (n = 120). Enrolment was done through snowballing method. A brief semi-structured interview schedule was used to elicit data on sociodemographics. Stigma was assessed using a 40-item four-point scale; QOL assessed using the 26-item WHO-QOL-BREF scale. We found that nearly 96.7% of subjects reported being stressed. Interestingly, stigma was mostly confronted in sociofamilial context. Fear of being stigmatized was higher (69.2%) compared to those who actually faced stigma (27.5%). Internalizing of stigma had a negative correlation with QOL in the psychological domain (P < 0.01), although proportion experiencing actual stigma experienced an above moderate QOL. Multiple coping strategies such as “Altruism,” “Anticipation,” and “Humor” were identified. Actual stigma experienced among PLWHA was far less as compared to the fear of being stigmatized; however, this leads to increased stressful situations on part of the affected. As a result, various coping strategies were embraced although such self-taught coping appeared to be only modestly helpful in managing perceived stigma. Hence, PLWHA should rise above stigma, avoid internalizing their stigmatized feelings, and work toward a better QOL.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Fee E, Parry M. Jonathan Mann, HIV/AIDS, and human rights. J Public Health Policy 2008;29:54-71.  Back to cited text no. 1
Logie CH, James L, Tharao W, Loutfy MR. HIV, gender, race, sexual orientation, and sex work: A qualitative study of intersectional stigma experienced by HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada. PLoS Med 2011;8:e1001124.  Back to cited text no. 2
National AIDS Control Organization. Annual Report 2015-16. National AIDS Control Organization; 2015. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2017 Jan 27].  Back to cited text no. 3
Oneindia. Bill to End HIV/AIDS Discrimination Introduced. Oneindia; 2011. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2017 Jan 27].  Back to cited text no. 4
Marfatia YS, Sharma A, Modi M. Overview of HIV/AIDS in India. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2007;28:1.  Back to cited text no. 5
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