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Positive Living Society of British Columbia

Stigma and access to health information in certain marginalized HIV communities (Mr. R. Paul Kerston/Dr. Mario Brondani)

HIV stigma may prevent people from being timely diagnosed and engaging in life-saving care. It may also prevent those who are HIV positive from seeking health educational information and services, particularly if they are from marginalized communities. To minimize stigma and to engage HIV-positive individuals in utilizing educational and support services, we need a good understanding of the roots of stigma and of the resources these community members need. Stigma can have many forms and be manifested in different manners. Despite the advance of readily available information and media, stigma remains held by the lay public and experienced by HIV marginalized individuals from Aboriginal communities and those who are refugee/immigrants, as the focus of this proposal. Within a community-based participatory research framework (CBPR), this proposed 2-year project will explore inductively the roots of stigma as experienced by HIV-positive members from these two marginalized communities, gathered in group discussions, and as held by lay individuals from the general public who are HIV-negative, gathered individually. The focus groups will be peer-led by volunteer trainees. Through collaborative thematic analysis from group discussions and interviews, this CBPR will enable us to identify the factors contributing to stigma and the educational and service needs of these marginalized communities. It will also inform the development of strategies to address and minimize stigma.