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HIV Patients Feel Stigmatized by Health Care Providers

Study of low-income patients links stigmatization with low access to health care services

THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Low-income patients with HIV may feel stigmatized by health care providers, which may prevent them from receiving an optimal level of care, according to the results of a study published in the September issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

Janni J. Kinsler, Ph.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 223 low-income, HIV-infected individuals in Los Angeles County from January 2004 through June 2006.

The researchers found that about 25 percent of the subjects reported stigmatization from a health care provider at baseline, which declined to 20 percent at follow-up, and that more than 50 percent of the subjects reported difficulty accessing health care throughout the study. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and CD4 count, they also found that perceived stigma was strongly associated with low access to care at baseline and six-month follow-up (odds ratios, 3.29 and 2.85, respectively).

"Effective interventions to reduce the stigma experienced by persons with HIV infection in the health care setting are urgently needed," the authors conclude. "Research is needed to improve our understanding of how health care providers' behaviors can negatively affect patients' experiences, and effective strategies must be developed to reduce perceived and public stigma in health care."

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