Women of Color Reflect on HIV-Related Stigma through PhotoVoice

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Abstract

HIV-related stigma affects people living with HIV (PLWH), especially in communities of color. In our study, African American and Latina/Hispanic women living with HIV (WLWH) described experiences of stigma through PhotoVoice, a community-based participatory method of documentary photography. Ten WLWH from Los Angeles documented stigma experiences through photographs for up to 5 weeks and discussed their images during a focus group or semi-structured individual interview. Qualitative interpretive phenomenological analysis of participant narratives and photographs revealed lack of education and cultural myths as the main triggers of the stigma our participants faced. Stigma was experienced in health care settings, and participants identified depression, fear of intimate relationships, and nondisclosure of HIV status as its consequences. Social support and faith were noted as key coping mechanisms. WLWH recommended involving PLWH and public health officials in stigma reduction campaigns and youth education. PhotoVoice was perceived as a useful tool for education and self-improvement.

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