The Effects of Stigma Associated with the Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS: Different Cultural Settings

By Saman Setareh-Shenas, John Gorski, Ryan Austerman and Arshia Noori.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Stigma associated with the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS has a substantial impact on public health and in particular individuals infected with HIV/AIDS. Since its discovery in 1981 the AIDS pandemic has been described as the most destructive disease to face humanity. One crucial barrier to diagnosis, subsequent successful treatment and containment of HIV is the role that stigma plays in different cultures and regions. A stigma can be perceived as a mark of disgrace. Cultural beliefs and norms cause the diagnosis of HIV to become stigmatized, with the potential effect of causing an individual to become socially ostracized from society. This analysis of the stigmas associated with HIV and AIDS across different cultures and regions, found varying levels of stigma seen among under-served and under-educated populations and of the effect that different religious beliefs have on stigmatization throughout the world. Delays in diagnosis because of stigmatization can cause adverse effects on individuals as early therapy with antivirals has significant advantages over later treatments. Much of the reasoning behind these views is due to layered stigma or the association of HIV with already socially condemned practices, including sexual behaviors and drug use, as well as uninformed anxiety about the infectiousness of the virus. Cultural specific education can potentially reduce the stigma associated with diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, and in turn increase treatment and containment of HIV+ patients.

Keywords: Stigma, HIV, AIDS, Cultural Practices, Diagnosis, Global, Medicine, Africa, Uganda, Thailand, Haiti, South-East Asia

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.317-326. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 592.398KB).

Saman Setareh-Shenas

Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Saman Setareh-Shenas graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2008. Upon graduation he was awarded with College Honors, Cum Laude Latin Honors, and Departmental Prize in the History of Medicine. Throughout his endeavors he has dedicated his work whether as the founder and director of Acute Aortic Syndrome Research Program or Coordinator of the Student Consortium on Improving Healthcare, to incorporating education and public awareness locally, nationally, and globally. Furthermore, these experiences have reinforced his desire to pursue a career in medicine that combines his interests in service, humanism, and research into a positive force in the lives of not only his patients, but the communities from which they come from. One of his main goals has been to find a chronic illness that he is passionate about and dedicate his life’s work towards helping his patients with this illness, to live their life to the fullest potential possible, without the constant burden of their disease. In HIV/AIDS, he has found this disease. To further his involvement in global medicine, Saman serves as the Secretary of WorldMed Global Health Initiative. In 2010 Saman earned his Master's degree in Global Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, and will continue his medical education.

John Gorski

Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

John Gorski recently earned his Master of Science degree in Global Medicine at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. His Bachelors of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering was also awarded from the University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering in May of 2009. While studying for his Bachelor’s degree, he explored his public health interests by traveling to Honduras with the USC Global Health Brigades. This sparked his interest in Global Health and resulted in his pursuit of his Master of Science in Global Medicine. John plans on attending medical school in the fall of 2010. He then hopes to apply his engineering background to work in establishing effective healthcare administration and infrastructure in developing countries.

Ryan Austerman

Student, Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Sourthern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Dr. Arshia Noori

Assistant Professor, Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Dr. Norri is currently practicing at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Arshia Noori is board certified in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease as well as Internal Medicine. Dr. Noori has served on the faculty of the University of Vermont and has instructed medical school courses such as Cardiovascular Convergence, Basics of Cardiac Arrhythmia Pathophysiology, and Ethics and End of Life Care. Dr. Noori received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School. He completed his post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado and went on to complete his sub-specialty training in Cardiovascular Disease followed by Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology at the University of Vermont. As a medical student, Dr. Noori was involved in the Chicago Medical School’s Health Care Project where he provided health care services to inner-city communities in Chicago’s South Side. He has also worked at the county hospital’s infectious disease ward in Tehran, Iran, where he was involved in providing care to patients with tuberculosis, HIV, and other infectious diseases.


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