Accessing health services while living with HIV: intersections of stigma.
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AIDS stigma has serious consequences. This study explored those practices within health-care organizations that persons with HIV perceive as stigmatizing. It used an exploratory, descriptive design using a participatory action research approach. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 16 Aboriginal and 17 non-Aboriginal persons living with HIV as well as with 27 health-care providers. The AIDS stigma perceived by many participants often intersected with other forms of stigma, related to behaviour, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or social class. In addition, policies at the organizational level contributed to AIDS stigma and at times intersected with stigma at the individual level. Participants' experiences of stigma and discrimination were shaped by the organizational policies (universal precautions, models of care) and design (physical layout) under which care was provided. Several paradoxes associated with secrecy, health-care settings, and the layering of stigma emerged in the reported experiences.
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