, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 463-471
Date: 23 Dec 2005

HIV/STD Stigmatization Fears as Health-Seeking Barriers in China

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Internationally, stigma prohibits effective HIV/STD identification, prevention, and care. Interviews with 106 persons in an urban center in Eastern China, some known to have engaged in stigmatized risk acts (sex workers, STD clinic patients) and some vulnerable for stigmatization fears to influence health-seeking behaviors (market employees, rural-to-urban migrants). Interviews focused on community norms, values, beliefs, and emotional and behavioral reactions to HIV/STD stigmatization related events. Attributions for infection were found to mark individual's failure to adhere to sexuality norms; define a condition warranting the avoidance of infected persons and dismissal by medical professionals; and promote anticipation of negative emotions (i.e., shame, fear, and embarrassment) and devalued social roles and status. Strategies reported to avoid stigmatization include avoiding HIV/STD knowledge; avoiding health care professionals, particularly in public settings; and conforming to community norms of shunning those suspected of risky behaviors. Results have direct implications for community marketing campaigns in China.