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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2014 Dec;28(12):652-65. doi: 10.1089/apc.2014.0226.

Patient and provider perspectives on HIV and HIV-related stigma in Dutch health care settings.

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1 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands , Heerlen, the Netherlands.


Ensuring that people living with HIV (PLWH) feel accepted in health care settings is imperative. This mixed methods study explored the perspectives of PLWH and health professionals on their interactions. A total of 262 predominantly gay men of Dutch origin participated in a survey study of possible negative interactions with health professionals, and semi-structured interviews were subsequently conducted with 22 PLWH and 14 health professionals. Again, most PLWH were gay men of Dutch origin. All health professionals were Dutch. PLWH reported negative experiences with health professionals including awkward interactions, irrelevant questions, rude treatment, blame, pity, excessive or differential precautions, care refusal, unnecessary referrals, delayed treatment, poor support, and confidentiality breaches. They also reported positive experiences including equal treatment, being valued as a partner in one's health, social support provision, and confidentiality assurances. Health professionals reported having little experience with PLWH and only basic knowledge of HIV. They contended that PLWH are treated equally and that HIV is no longer stigmatized, but also reported fear of occupational infection, resulting in differential precautions. Additionally, they conveyed labeling PLWH's files to warn others, and curiosity regarding how patients acquired HIV. The findings suggest that there is a gap in perception between PLWH and health professionals regarding the extent to which negative interactions occur, and that these interactions should be improved. Implications for stigma reduction and care optimization are discussed.

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