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AIDS Care. 2014;26(3):396-403. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2013.819409. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Differences in testing, stigma, and perceived consequences of stigmatization among heterosexual men and women living with HIV in Bengaluru, India.

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a Department of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies , University of California , San Francisco , CA 94105 , USA.


Approximately 2.4 million people in India are living with HIV. Gender inequality affects HIV prevention, detection, and management. The purpose of this paper was to describe gender differences in the experience of living with HIV in Bengaluru, India. A subsample of n = 313 (159 men and 154 women) from a larger cohort was used for these analyses. Participants were recruited through AIDS service organizations. They completed an interviewer-administered survey assessing HIV testing experience, types of stigma, and perceived consequences of stigmatization. The majority of men (67%) reported getting HIV tested because of illness, while women were more likely to be tested after learning their spouse's HIV-positive status (42%). More men (59%) than women (45%, p<0.05) were tested in private care settings. Men reported significantly higher mean levels of internalized stigma (men: M=0.71, SD = 0.63; women: M=0.46, SD = 0.55; p<0.001), whereas the women reported significantly higher scores for enacted stigma (men: M=1.30, SD = 1.69; women: M=2.10, SD = 2.17; p<0.001). These differences remained significant after controlling for potential socio-demographic covariates. Following their diagnosis, more women reported moving out of their homes (men: 16%; women: 26%; p<0.05). More men (89%) than women (66%; p<0.001) reported to have modified their sexual behavior after being diagnosed. These findings suggest that the experience of living with HIV and HIV stigma varies by gender in this population. Suggestions for a gender-based approach to HIV prevention and stigma reduction are provided.

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