Navigating identity, territorial stigma, and HIV care services in Vancouver, Canada: A qualitative study

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Abstract

This study examines the influence of territorial stigma on access to HIV care and other support services. Qualitative interviews were conducted with thirty people living with HIV (PLHIV) who use drugs recruited from the Dr. Peter Centre (DPC), an HIV care facility located in Vancouver, Canada’s West End neighbourhood that operates under a harm reduction approach. Findings demonstrated that territorial stigma can undermine access to critical support services and resources in spatially stigmatized neighbourhoods among PLHIV who use drugs who have relocated elsewhere. Furthermore, PLHIV moving from spatially stigmatized neighbourhoods – in this case, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – to access HIV care services experienced tension with different groups at the DPC (e.g., men who have sex with me, people who use drugs), as these groups sought to define who constituted a′normative’ client. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the urgent need to consider the siting of HIV care services as the epidemic evolves.

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