Stigma and Racial/Ethnic HIV Disparities
Moving Toward Resilience
Published in: American Psychologist, v. 68, no. 4, May-June 2013, p. 225-236
Posted on RAND.org on October 13, 2016
Prior research suggests that stigma plays a role in racial/ethnic health disparities. However, there is limited understanding about the mechanisms by which stigma contributes to HIV-related disparities in risk, incidence and screening, treatment, and survival and what can be done to reduce the impact of stigma on these disparities. We introduce the Stigma and HIV Disparities Model to describe how societal stigma related to race and ethnicity is associated with racial/ethnic HIV disparities via its manifestations at the structural level (e.g., residential segregation) as well as the individual level among perceivers (e.g., discrimination) and targets (e.g., internalized stigma). We then review evidence of these associations. Because racial/ethnic minorities at risk of and living with HIV often possess multiple stigmas (e.g., HIV-positive, substance use), we adopt an intersectionality framework and conceptualize interdependence among co-occurring stigmas. We further propose a resilience agenda and suggest that intervening on modifiable strength-based moderators of the association between societal stigma and disparities can reduce disparities. Strengthening economic and community empowerment and trust at the structural level, creating common ingroup identities and promoting contact with people living with HIV among perceivers at the individual level, and enhancing social support and adaptive coping among targets at the individual level can improve resilience to societal stigma and ultimately reduce racial/ethnic HIV disparities.