Laura Nyblade presents at White House meeting on HIV stigma

WASHINGTON — Laura Nyblade, Ph.D., senior technical advisor for stigma and discrimination in RTI International's Global Health Division, recently presented at a White House meeting on HIV-related stigma.

On the heels of Zero Discrimination Day, a day to celebrate diversity and reject discrimination, the meeting focused on best practices for measuring HIV and related stigmas, and a way forward to reduce stigma's impact on the fight against HIV. It was convened by the Office of National AIDS Policy, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the NIH Office of AIDS Research.

"Stigma is widely recognized as a barrier to HIV prevention, care, and treatment," Nyblade said. "But for many years stigma was considered too abstract to measure and address. Now thanks to significant work by researchers over the past two decades, we have more tools than ever to understand, measure, and monitor stigma. This deeper understanding is critical to scaling up stigma reduction efforts, which in turn will ensure more people are tested for HIV and successfully treated."

At the meeting, Nyblade presented a rapid-scan analysis of HIV stigma measurement over the past two decades, highlighting changing trends in the populations among which stigma is measured, where studies were conducted, and the types of stigma measured.

Her findings showed that a rapid growth in stigma measurement studies that use validated instruments and span multiple geographies has demonstrated that stigma measurement is both feasible and attainable. Most importantly, the common themes and barriers that emerge in these studies spanning the globe show that the standardization of measurement tools is possible. 

Nyblade also participated in a small roundtable with fellow researchers to discuss the state of stigma research and make recommendations for the research agenda going forward. She was joined at both days of the meeting by partners from Thailand representing the government, civil society and UNAIDS.  RTI supports Thailand's Ministry of Health in their efforts to scale up stigma reduction in health facilities nationally.  

"Now the HIV community has the opportunity and responsibility to take stigma measurement to the next level," Nyblade said. "We must scale up and standardize the measurement of stigma, integrate stigma into other measurement tools, and ensure our findings drive real action by governments and donors to create the programs, policies, and practices that will improve health outcomes and save lives."

A healthcare worker stigma measurement tool developed under RTI's leadership as part of the Health Policy Project is one example of a tool for concrete action. Its five key measurement areas provide a globally-standardized questionnaire to measure stigma in health facilities, which can then help facilitate routine monitoring of HIV-related stigma, as well as the expansion and improvement of programming and policies in health facilities.

 

Highlights

  • Laura Nyblade, Ph.D., senior technical advisor for stigma and discrimination in RTI International's Global Health Division, recently presented at a White House meeting on HIV-related stigma
  • Laura Nyblade presented a rapid-scan analysis of HIV stigma measurement over the past two decades, highlighting changing trends in the populations among which stigma is measured, where studies were conducted, and the types of stigma measured