Stigma Towards Homosexuality and AIDS Among Students of a Large Hispanic-Serving University

Abstract

Homosexuality and AIDS-related stigma lead to failures in testing, disclosure of HIV status, and treatment for HIV. This study explored stigma towards AIDS and homosexuality among students of a large Hispanic-serving university in the southeastern United States (US). An online anonymous survey was emailed to 8000 randomly selected students. Two multiple choice questions about attitudes towards a professor with AIDS and a gay classmate were analyzed using Chi-square tests, simple and multivariable logistic regression to examine the association of stigma with other factors. Most (60%) of the 632 respondents were women. Only 7.8% of study participants reported stigmatizing attitudes of wanting to drop a class, sitting further away from, or feeling less comfortable in a class with a professor diagnosed with AIDS. Similarly, 7.8% of respondents would stigmatize a gay classmate by trying to avoid social contact or feeling uncomfortable talking with him. Males (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 3.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.95, 7.04) and non-Hispanic students (AOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.08, 3.81) had a higher—and those born in the US had a lower (AOR 0.43, 95% CI 0.23, 0.81)—odds of stigmatizing a gay classmate. No variables were significantly associated with stigmatizing attitudes towards a professor with AIDS. Stigmatizing attitudes towards a faculty member with AIDS or a gay classmate do not appear to be a major problem among students at this Hispanic-serving university. Interventions designed to further reduce gay-related stigma might focus on non-Hispanic young men who are born outside of the United States.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank our student colleagues, Anamika Batra, Kemesha Gabbidon, Kathleen McInvale, Muni Rubens, Elena Sebekos, Hideaki Tanaka, and Meredith Wilcox, who contributed to the conceptualization and implementation of the SBHS-Web. We also extend our appreciation to Dr. Adriana Campa, Dr. Consuelo Boronat, Dr. Oscar Loynaz, and Ms. Dona Walcott for their guidance and support during the course of the study. Finally, we want to acknowledge the essential contribution of 632 study participants, who willingly and without compensation agreed to take a few minutes to tell us about themselves and help create a better learning environment for everyone to enjoy.

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Correspondence to Soumyadeep Mukherjee.

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Mukherjee, S., McKinney, S. & Darrow, W. Stigma Towards Homosexuality and AIDS Among Students of a Large Hispanic-Serving University. Sexuality & Culture 22, 1137–1153 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-018-9516-4

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Keywords

  • AIDS
  • Sexual minorities
  • Stigma
  • Students
  • Universities