Measuring HIV- and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in Nicaragua: results from a community-based study

William J Ugarte, Ulf Högberg, Eliette C Valladares, Birgitta Essén
AIDS Education and Prevention: Official Publication of the International Society for AIDS Education 2013, 25 (2): 164-78
Psychometric properties of external HIV-related stigma and discrimination scales and their predictors were investigated. A cross-sectional community-based study was carried out among 520 participants using an ongoing health and demographic surveillance system in León, Nicaragua. Participants completed an 18-item HIV stigma scale and 19 HIV and AIDS discrimination-related statements. A factor analysis found that 15 of the 18 items in the stigma scale and 18 of the 19 items in the discrimination scale loaded clearly into five- and four-factor structures, respectively. Overall Cronbach's alpha of .81 for the HIV stigma scale and .91 for the HIV discrimination scale provided evidence of internal consistency. Hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis identified that females, rural residents, people with insufficient HIV-related transmission knowledge, those not tested for HIV, those reporting an elevated self-perception of HIV risk, and those unwilling to disclose their HIV status were associated with higher stigmatizing attitudes and higher discriminatory actions towards HIV-positive people. This is the first community-based study in Nicaragua that demonstrates that overall HIV stigma and discrimination scales were reliable and valid in a community-based sample comprised of men and women of reproductive age. Stigma and discrimination were reported high in the general population, especially among sub-groups. The findings in the current study suggest community-based strategies, including the monitoring of stigma and discrimination, and designing and implementing stigma reduction interventions, are greatly needed to reduce inequities and increase acceptance of persons with HIV.

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