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Thirty-Five Years Later

HIV Stigma in Washington, DC Health Care Workers

Houston, Patricia, MS*; Powell, Edwin, DAEd; Khan, Javed, MD; Sultana, Shirin, MSSW; Kwagyan, John, PhD; Kharfen, Michael, BA; Rana, Sohail, MD

Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care: May-June 2019 - Volume 30 - Issue 3 - p 344–351
doi: 10.1097/JNC.0000000000000060
Feature Article

Stigma has negatively influenced the lives of people living with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. It affects every facet of their lives and can cause mental health problems, loss of human rights, and barriers to care. Studies in developing countries have shown a high prevalence of HIV stigma among health care workers. Few studies have been conducted in the United States. We used a validated instrument to survey 330 health care workers in Washington, DC, a high HIV prevalence area. The goal was to obtain data to assess the severity of the problem. We found that stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes were prevalent as reflected in responses from 66% of the participants. Of clinicians surveyed, 31% reported using double gloves. Participants with stigma training had lower stigma levels, whereas older individuals and support staff were more stigmatizing. Negative attitudes affect access to care and have major public health implications.

Patricia Houston, MS, is a Project Director, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA. Edwin Powell, DAEd, is an Assistant Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Child Health and Community and Family Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA. Javed Khan, MD, is a Research Coordinator, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA. Shirin Sultana, MSSW, is a PhD candidate, Howard University School of Social Work, Washington, DC, USA. John Kwagyan, PhD, is a Graduate Associate Professor and Co-Director, Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Research Design, Georgetown-Howard University Center for Clinical & Translation Science, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA. Michael Kharfen, BA, is the Senior Deputy Director, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD & TB Administration, DC Department of Health, Washington, DC, USA. Sohail Rana, MD, is a Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.

Corresponding author: Patricia Houston, e-mail:

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

© 2019 Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
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