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J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2004 Sep-Oct;15(5):30-9.

Stigma: a health barrier for women with HIV/AIDS.


The stigma experienced by women with HIV/AIDS is much like that of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. At the time of diagnosis with HIV/AIDS, women already are aware of the stigma associated with the disease. They immediately see themselves differently and believe others do also. The purpose of this article is to explore the multidimensional effect of stigma on women's efforts to promote, maintain, and enhance their health. The experiences of the women in this study tell of rejection by family members, friends, health care providers, employers, and church members. This rejection caused by stigma affects access to health care, medication adherence, social interaction, and social support. Interventions are needed to decrease the impact of stigma on women with HIV/AIDS so they can achieve a higher level of wellness, increase their life span, continue in the workforce, and improve their quality of life.

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