*WINNER* Stigma in Special Appalachian Populations: Stigma As A Barrier To Care In The HIV+ And Transgender Communities
Introduction: Stigma may contribute to negative health outcomes for the people experiencing the stigma. Additional barriers to healthcare are caused by the stigma experienced in the special populations of people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as stigma experienced by members of the transgender community.
Methods: The search strategy included a search through several electronic databases as well as key publications in infectious disease, public health, and psychology. Thorough reviews of literature, as well as past key informant interviews were utilized for this study. New surveys focusing on stigma were also administered to people living in East Tennessee in the target populations. A total of 135 people in the special populations were surveyed; 65 identified as transgender and 70 identified as People Living with HIV & AIDS (PLWHA). The survey consisted of questions where respondents expressed how feelings of stigma related to HIV status or being transgender kept them from healthcare and health seeking behaviors.
Results: People living with HIV and AIDS experience profound levels of external and internal stigma which are comparable to the level of stigma experienced by members of the Transgender community. Both special populations, as well as those in the intersection of both groups experience stigma that can create barriers to healthcare, linkage to care, and healthcare outcomes.
Conclusion: People living with HIV and AIDS as well members of the transgender community experience internal and external stigmas that create barriers to healthcare and linkage to care. Healthcare providers can provide an empathetic and understanding environment that reduces stigma.