The Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI) has released new research on Perceptions and Impact of HIV Stigma among High Risk Populations in the US Deep South. This study examines community HIV-related stigma in the US Deep South, a region disproportionately affected by HIV. Study participants included individuals at higher risk for HIV, primarily African American men who have sex with men and women participating in substance use treatment. Findings from six focus groups identified a lack of knowledge and significant fear about HIV in participants’ communities. A dearth of accurate information about HIV and HIV prevention, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), was reported as widespread and contributed to myths about HIV and increased stigma. HIV-related stigma was reported as pervasive and resulted in lowered participation in HIV testing and treatment. Participant suggestions for addressing stigma included extensive media HIV education and counseling/ support for individuals living with HIV. Addressing HIV-related stigma in the Deep South is critical to reducing HIV transmission and improving HIV-related outcomes.
To view additional SASI research related to HIV-related stigma in the Deep South, visit the SASI website.