Stigmatizing attitudes against people living with HIV and AIDS among MSM. Results from a nationwide survey of MSM in Germany

Published: July 21, 2010

Stigmatizing attitudes against people living with HIV and AIDS among MSM. Results from a nationwide survey of MSM in Germany

J. Drewes1, C. Kraschl1, P.C. Langer2, D. Kleiber1

1Free University Berlin, Public Health, Berlin, Germany, 2Bundeswehr Institute of Social Sciences, Strausberg, Germany

Background: HIV-Stigma remains a main problem regarding prevention and care in the epidemic. Research on stigma traditionally focuses on stigmatizing attitudes of groups not affected by the epidemic. Little is known about stigmatizing attitudes of members of high risk groups, especially in developed countries.

Methods: Data were collected in a nationwide online-survey of MSM in Germany. Participants were recruited from various websites directed at a homosexual audience. A scale developed by the researchers with two subscales measuring symbolic stigma (four items, Cronbach’s alpha=.72) and instrumental stigma (three items, Cronbach’s alpha=.78) was answered by 2,352 participants.

Results: Prevalence of stigmatizing attitudes ranged from 7 to 32 %, with higher rates of approval for symbolic stigma items. In addition, the majority of 72 % stated that it was generally important for them that sex partners are HIV-negative. No substantial relationships were found with age or educational background. HIV Stigma was significantly higher among non-gay-identified MSM and MSM living in rural areas. Furthermore, significant relationships with risk behavior were found.

Conclusions: Acceptance of stigmatizing statements against PLWHA was unexpectedly high in the population of MSM. HIV Stigma among MSM constitutes a potential barrier for prevention, diagnoses and care. The presented results can guide interventions to minimize HIV Stigma in this population.

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