Objective: HIV-related stigma is a devastating problem with severe negative consequences in terms of further spread of the epidemic as well as the health status and social and psychological well-being of people living with HIV. The present study aimed to determine the current situation of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Turkey.
Methods: Data were gathered through the People Living with HIV Stigma Index, which was developed by a group of international organizations and was administered in Turkey in 2011. One hundred people living with HIV including 21 females, 4 transsexual women and 75 men were included in the study using the purposive sampling technique.
Results: The rates of HIV-related stigma/discrimination and violation of human rights were 23.1% and 30% respectively. Being gossiped about (69%), being subject to verbal abuse, threats and injury (46%) were the most common forms of stigma. Thirty percent of the participants lost their jobs due to HIV-related stigma and 20% were denied healthcare services because of HIV positivity. Disclosure of HIV status to third parties by healthcare professionals without the consent of the patients appeared as another major problem. The respondents identified the fear of transmission through casual contact due to lack of knowledge on the transmission routes of HIV as the major reason for stigma. The survey also revealed high levels of internalized stigma among the participants.
Conclusions: The findings suggested an urgent need to develop national policies for protecting people living with HIV from stigma and discrimination in Turkey. Klimik Dergisi 2017; 30(1): 15-21.