Quarter of HIV Patients Report Discrimination

Many say health-care providers uncomfortable with them

FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Twenty-six percent of people infected with HIV report they have felt discriminated against by doctors and other health-care providers, says a U.S. study in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers interviewed almost 2,500 people with HIV, and 26 percent reported experiencing at least one of four types of perceived discrimination, while 8 percent reported that they'd been refused health care.

The study found that 20 percent of the patients reported that a health-care provider had been uncomfortable with them, 17 percent reported that a health-care provider had treated them as an inferior or preferred to avoid them (18 percent).

This discrimination was attributed to doctors (54 percent), nurses and other clinical staff (39 percent), dentists (32 percent), hospital staff (31 percent) and case managers and social workers (8 percent). The HIV-infected patients who said they perceived discrimination reported less access to care and less trust in their care providers. They also gave lower ratings for the quality of their past medical and hospital care.

"It's illegal to discriminate on the basis of HIV infection. And patients who perceive discrimination may avoid care and ignore treatment recommendations," study author Dr. Mark A. Schuster, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Rand researcher, said in a prepared statement.

"We need to focus on what leads patients to perceive discrimination, whether real or misunderstood, and address it," Schuster said.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center offers advice on choosing an HIV care provider.

SOURCE: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., news release, Oct. 18, 2005
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