Nav: Home

HIV stigma influenced by perceptions of masculinity, study reveals

August 08, 2016

BINGHAMTON, NY - Whether an HIV-positive man has met cultural expectations of masculinity might impact how much stigma he experiences, according to a new study from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

A research team led by Titilayo Okoror, associate professor of Africana studies at Binghamton University, conducted in-depth interviews with 17 heterosexual HIV-positive men in Nigeria, all of whom were receiving antitretroviral therapy, which is used to slow the rate at which HIV makes copies of itself in the body. Without using the word stigma, discussions and interviews were guided by four questions that explored participants' experiences of living with HIV/AIDS. Findings indicated that participants' experiences of stigma might be moderated by the social context surrounding their HIV diagnosis, and whether they have met the socio-cultural construction of masculinity.

Participants whose diagnoses were preceded by their own sickness were more likely to report isolation, stigma and feelings of being less than a man. Contrarily, participants whose diagnosis were preceded by immediate family members' diagnoses were less likely to report experiencing HIV stigma and more likely to educate others about HIV/AIDS.

"What was found, which we did not expect at all, was how the men were describing their stigma experiences. And what the data showed is that when they have met the responsibility of what it means to be culturally defined as a man, they tend to report less experience of stigma," said Okoror. "The prevailing ideal of what it means to be a man is that a real man is supposed to be strong, not weak; is supposed to be healthy, not unhealthy; is supposed to have a job, not stay at home. Men that were sick for a long time before they tested positive for HIV were more likely to report being stigmatized against or being isolated because they were sick for so long."

Okoror thinks that HIV programs in Nigeria need to change their messaging to focus on earlier testing, as this can help reduce the stigma associated with being seen as sick for a long time. Married men tend to get tested earlier, giving them a better opportunity to attack the disease before it becomes a major issue. Unmarried men need to get tested earlier as well, she said, to avoid becoming sick and experience the associated stigma.

"If we can redesign those programs to say, 'Hey, listen. Get tested now, then you don't have to experience whatever sickness might come along with this, because you can quickly get on medication. By getting tested now, knowing your status, you can lessen your experience of sickness that comes with the disease, because nobody needs to know."

The study, "Social context surrounding HIV diagnosis and construction of masculinity: a qualitative study of stigma experiences of heterosexual HIV positive men in southwest Nigeria," was published in BMC Public Health.
-end-


Binghamton University

Related Hiv Articles:

Defective HIV proviruses reduce effective immune system response, interfere with HIV cure
A new study finds defective HIV proviruses, long thought to be harmless, produce viral proteins and distract the immune system from killing intact proviruses needed to reduce the HIV reservoir and cure HIV.
1 in 7 people living with HIV in the EU/EEA are not aware of their HIV status
Almost 30,000 newly diagnosed HIV infections were reported by the 31 European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries in 2015, according to data published today by ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Smoking may shorten the lifespan of people living with HIV more than HIV itself
A new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital finds that cigarette smoking substantially reduces the lifespan of people living with HIV in the US, potentially even more than HIV itself.
For smokers with HIV, smoking may now be more harmful than HIV itself
HIV-positive individuals who smoke cigarettes may be more likely to die from smoking-related disease than the infection itself, according to a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Patients diagnosed late with HIV infection are more likely to transmit HIV to others
An estimated 1.2 million people live with HIV in the United States, with nearly 13 percent being unaware of their infection.
The Lancet HIV: New HIV infections stagnating at 2.5 million a year worldwide
A major new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study, published today in The Lancet HIV journal, reveals that although deaths from HIV/AIDS have been steadily declining from a peak in 2005, 2.5 million people worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015, a number that hasn't changed substantially in the past 10 years.
NIH scientists discover that defective HIV DNA can encode HIV-related proteins
Investigators from the National Institutes of Health have discovered that cells from HIV-infected people whose virus is suppressed with treatment harbor defective HIV DNA that can nevertheless be transcribed into a template for producing HIV-related proteins.
Study examines risk of HIV transmission from condomless sex with virologically suppressed HIV infection
Among nearly 900 serodifferent (one partner is HIV-positive, one is HIV-negative) heterosexual and men who have sex with men couples in which the HIV-positive partner was using suppressive antiretroviral therapy and who reported condomless sex, during a median follow-up of 1.3 years per couple, there were no documented cases of within-couple HIV transmission, according to a study appearing in the July 12 issue of JAMA, an HIV/AIDS theme issue.
HIV vaccine design should adapt as HIV virus mutates
Researchers from UAB, Emory and Microsoft demonstrate that HIV has evolved to be pre-adapted to the immune response, worsening clinical outcomes in newly infected patients.
Charlie Sheen's HIV disclosure may reinvigorate awareness, prevention of HIV
Actor Charlie Sheen's public disclosure in November 2015 that he has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) corresponded with the greatest number of HIV-related Google searches ever recorded in the United States, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Related Hiv Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.