Gender-based attitudes, HIV misconceptions and feelings towards marginalized groups are associated with stigmatization in Mumbai, India

Shalini Bharat, Jayashree Ramakrishna, Elsa Heylen, Maria L Ekstrand
Journal of Biosocial Science 2014, 46 (6): 717-32
Summary This study examined the association of gender-based attitudes, HIV misconceptions and community feelings for marginalized groups with stigmatizing responses towards people with HIV/AIDS in Mumbai, India. Participants included 546 men and women sampled in hospital settings during 2007-2008. Structured measures were used to assess avoidance intentions and denial of rights of people with HIV/AIDS. Mean age of participants was 32 years; 42% had less than 10 years of education. Higher HIV transmission misconceptions (β=0.47; p<0.001), more traditional gender attitudes (β=0.11; p<0.01) and more negative feelings towards HIV-positive people (β=0.23; p<0.001) were related to higher avoidance intentions. Endorsement of denial of rights was also significantly associated with higher transmission misconceptions (β=0.20; p<0.001), more traditional gender attitudes (β=0.33; p<0.001) and greater negative feelings towards HIV-positive people (β=0.12; p<0.05), as well as with a lower education level (β=-0.10; p<0.05). The feelings respondents had towards people with HIV/AIDS were more strongly correlated with their feelings towards those with other diseases (tuberculosis, leprosy) than with feelings they had towards those associated with 'immoral' behaviour (e.g. sex workers). Eliminating HIV transmission misconceptions and addressing traditional gender attitudes are critical for reducing HIV stigma in Indian society.

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