LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 133-134
Combating HIV-related stigma: An experience from Eastern India
Sandeep Lahiry1, Ayan Mukherjee1, Anindya Mukherjee2, Shouvik Choudhury1, Rajasree Sinha3
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 Submission||06-Mar-2017|
|Date of Acceptance||30-Dec-2019|
|Date of Web Publication||18-Jun-2020|
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
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|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 2020 Oct 24];41:133-4. Available from: https://www.ijstd.org/text.asp?2020/41/1/133/287005
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. AIDS-related stigma and discrimination were referred to as prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). 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%. The National AIDS Control Program-IV has made the elimination of stigma and discrimination a major focus. 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. 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. Nearly 74% of patients did not disclose status for fear of discrimination.
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.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
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Marfatia YS, Sharma A, Modi M. Overview of HIV/AIDS in India. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2007;28:1. [Full text]