In this week's PLoS Medicine, Mona Loutfy of the University of Toronto, Canada and colleagues report their study examining experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada. Using focus groups, the researchers found that women attributed their experiences of stigma and discrimination to HIV-related stigma, sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work. The coping strategies they used included resilience (at a micro level), social networks and support groups (at a meso level), and challenging stigma (at a macro level).
The authors state that: "Overall, this investigation highlights a complex system of intersectional stigma that necessitates multifaceted strategies to promote health equity for HIV-positive women. Findings can inform treatment, care, and support guidelines and practice recommendations for health care practitioners, social workers, HIV prevention and support workers, and mental health specialists working with HIV-positive women."
Funding: This work was supported by grants from CIHR, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as well as funds from the Ontario AIDS Bureau and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: LJ was the Research Coordinator of the study and the data cited in the article submitted to PLoS. LJ was financially compensated for that role. The study received funds from CIHR and the Ontario AIDS Bureau, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (they did not provide input or participate in the study or data analysis in any manner). The community- based agency, Women's Health in Women's Hands Community Health Centre (WHIWH) housed the study, administered the funds and all related contracts. LJ was paid by WHIWH as per the contract agreement. All other authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Citation: Logie CH, James L, Tharao W, Loutfy MR (2011) HIV, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, and Sex Work: A Qualitative Study of Intersectional Stigma Experienced by HIV-Positive Women in Ontario, Canada. PLoS Med 8(11): e1001124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124
Mona Rafik Loutfy
University of Toronto
Department of Medicine
70 Carlton Street
Ontario M4V 1E4