New tool measures HIV-related stigma among global health facility staff

Research shows that people living with HIV face stigma and discrimination even from health facility workers, but there have been few efforts made to scale up stigma reduction programs in service delivery 

Graffiti advocating AIDS tolerance

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – A new tool developed by an international consortium will serve as a critical step in developing effective stigma and discrimination reduction programs, according to a collaboratively funded study led by the United States Agency for International Development and PEPFAR-funded Health Policy project and authored by RTI International and partners.

The research was published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. The tool, a brief questionnaire, measures various dimensions of HIV stigma within health facilities. 

The researchers hope the results will be a catalyst to health facilities to make changes to ensure that people living with HIV, and people associated with HIV, receive high-quality health services and that their rights and privacy are upheld.

“Data shows that stigma is an issue across departments within health facilities,” said Laura Nyblade, Ph.D., a public health researcher at RTI. “Stigma can be a huge barrier for individuals living with HIV and other people associated with HIV – it discourages people from getting tested for HIV, sharing their HIV positive status with partners and caregivers, seeking care, and adhering with treatment.”  

The tool was field tested by project partners in China, Dominica, Egypt, Kenya, Puerto Rico, and St. Christopher & Nevis. The data were analyzed across sites to examine performance. 

The results of the collaborative effort demonstrate that it is possible to have a brief, standardized programmatic tool to measure stigma within health facilities that works well across diverse country contexts, prevalence areas, languages, healthcare settings and health worker types.