The 3 levels of HIV stigma in the United States military: perspectives from service members living with HIV

Joseph M. Yabes*, Phillip W. Schnarrs, Leroy B. Foster, Paul T. Scott, Jason F. Okulicz, Shilpa Hakre

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Epidemiological surveillance data indicate that a majority of HIV-infected in the United States (U.S.) military are African-Americans and men who have sex with men. There is limited research about barriers to HIV prevention among military service members and the unique factors that contribute to HIV stigma. Methods: A convenience sample of 30 U.S. service members were recruited from an infectious disease clinic. In depth interviews were conducted and data analyzed using a thematic coding process. Results: Two broad categories were identified: 1) Outcomes of HIV Stigma: Fear of Rejection, Shame, and Embarrassment; and 2) Strategies for combating stigma which include increasing HIV education and prevention resources. Military policies and institutional culture regarding sexuality were found to contribute to stigma. Conclusions: Participants identified a need for HIV education and suggested individuals living with HIV serve as mentors. A peer-to-peer intervention for delivering HIV prevention education may address these needs and reduce HIV stigma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1399
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • HIV
  • Military
  • Sexuality
  • Stigma

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