AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1877–1887 | Cite as

Stigma, the Media, and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention: Observations for Enhancing Knowledge Translation and Resisting Stigma in the Canadian Context

  • Kiffer G. CardEmail author
  • Blake W. Hawkins
  • Leili Mortazavi
  • Aidan Gregory
  • Keng Hon Ng
  • Nathan J. Lachowsky
Original Paper


Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective, though sometimes stigmatized, strategy for HIV prevention. With the goal of examining how PrEP stigma can be addressed, this study examined the media’s handling of stigma related to PrEP by searching the Canadian Newsstream and Daily Xtra news databases for key terms related to PrEP. Overall, 101 media articles were thematically coded in triplicate; 36.3% of which included mentions of PrEP stigma. LGBT media sources were more likely than mainstream sources to have included content coded as relating to PrEP stigma (p = 0.02). In these articles, uncertainty regarding PrEP, and neo-liberal attitudes towards sexual responsibility were major factors associated with media discussion of PrEP stigma. We discuss the role that heuristics play in shaping lay readers perceptions and interpretation of PrEP media coverage and discuss methods for overcoming stigma using evidence-based communication strategies.


Media HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis Risk compensation Knowledge translation 



KGC is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Health Systems Impact Fellowship award, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee award, and a Canadian HIV Trials Network/Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research Postdoctoral Fellowship award. NJL is supported by a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar award.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kiffer G. Card
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Blake W. Hawkins
    • 2
  • Leili Mortazavi
    • 2
  • Aidan Gregory
    • 2
  • Keng Hon Ng
    • 2
  • Nathan J. Lachowsky
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of VictoriaBurnabyCanada

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