AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 2589–2599 | Cite as

Identifying Strategies to Cope with HIV-Related Stigma in a Group of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic: A Qualitative Study

  • Christine Tagliaferri Rael
  • Alex Carballo-Diéguez
  • Rachel Norton
  • Eryka Thorley
  • Rebecca Giguere
  • Alan Sheinfil
  • Javier López Rios
Original Paper


Internalized HIV-related stigma negatively impacts the mental and physical health of women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA). Yet, some women can successfully confront stigma. The present work uses qualitative methods to investigate the successful stigma coping strategies displayed by 19 WLWHA who reported the least internalized stigma possible on the Internalized AIDS-Related Stigma Scale out of a larger pool of 233 WLWHA in San Felipe de Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Such strategies included, HIV disclosure control; preemptive disclosure of HIV-status; educating oneself/others about HIV; viewing HIV as a manageable condition; and looking to family, friends and partners for support. Our findings add to current knowledge about how WLWHA successfully manage internalized stigma, particularly in the context of the Dominican Republic. Clinicians should work closely with WLWHA to counsel them about the stigma coping strategies that best fit their life context.


Stigma HIV Dominican republic Coping strategies 



Data collection support was provided by Maria del Rosario Martínez-Muñoz and Yasmín Soto. Special thanks to CEPROSH and Grupo Clara, who provided the local infrastructure for outreach and study subject recruitment. Research design and project development was supported by the dissertation committee: Drs. David Tracer, Jean Scandlyn, John Brett, and Richard Miech at the University of Colorado-Denver. Grammatical editing was provided by Tim Frasca.


This project was supported by a Fulbright Program grant sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education. All affiliated research was conducted with the University of Colorado-Denver. The first author is now supported by a training grant (T32 MH019139; Principal Investigator, Theodorus Sandfort, Ph.D.) from the National Institute of Mental Health at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the NY State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (P30-MH43520; Center Principal Investigator: Robert Remien, Ph.D.). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Tagliaferri Rael
    • 1
  • Alex Carballo-Diéguez
    • 1
  • Rachel Norton
    • 2
  • Eryka Thorley
    • 3
  • Rebecca Giguere
    • 1
  • Alan Sheinfil
    • 1
  • Javier López Rios
    • 1
  1. 1.HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Colorado-DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Colorado-DenverDenverUSA

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