Perceived stigma and social risk of HIV testing and disclosure among Iranian-Australians living in the Sydney metropolitan area

Hassan Hosseinzadeh, Syeda Zakia Hossain, Shahrzad Bazargan-Hejazi
Sexual Health 2012, 9 (2): 171-7

BACKGROUND: Fear of being stigmatised is a major social risk for seeking help in the HIV/AIDS arena. However, little is known about the social perceptions that people hold about the disease. This study explores the level of perceived stigma and its effect on the social risk of HIV testing and disclosure among Iranian-Australians immigrants living in the Sydney metropolitan area.

METHODS: A total of 236 Iranian-Australians immigrants aged 20-65 years participated in this cross-sectional study.

RESULTS: The majority of respondents (73.3%) perceived that HIV-infected people face a great deal of or some stigma. Participants were concerned about being stigmatised if they tested positive or were known to be HIV-positive in the future. A significant majority expressed that such concerns would affect their decision-making related to HIV testing and disclosure. Females were more likely to perceive HIV/AIDS stigma. Multiple regression analyses showed that perceived HIV/AIDS stigma could explain 28.6% of the variance in social risk of HIV testing and disclosure (B=0.89, β=0.53, P<0.0001) and 24.6% of the variance in decision-making related to HIV testing and disclosure (B=0.62, β=0.49, P<0.0001) after controlling for sociodemographic factors. Time since migration (predictive power of 4.8-6.78%) strongly influenced the associations.

CONCLUSIONS: If social stigma is left unaddressed, individuals would be reluctant to undertake HIV testing or disclose their HIV status if tested positive. Further attempts are needed to change the current social construction of HIV/AIDS among Iranians-Australians living in Sydney.

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