HIV patients face discrimination from doctors


SANTA MONICA , Calif. Oct. 18, 2005 - Research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reveals that 26% of HIV-infected individuals reported that they felt discriminated against by physicians and other health care providers. Despite demographic variations, all subgroups reported discrimination of some type.

Over a period of one year, nearly 2500 HIV-infected adults receiving health care in the US were interviewed. Twenty-six percent of these patients reported experiencing at least one of four types of perceived discrimination since becoming infected, including eight percent who had been refused health care service.

Most reported that a provider had been uncomfortable with them (20%), treated them as an inferior (17%), or preferred to avoid them (18%). According to the study, the discrimination was attributed to physicians (54%), nurses and other clinical staff (39%), dentists (32%), hospital staff (31%) and case managers and social workers (8%).

"It's illegal to discriminate on the basis of HIV infection. And patients who perceive discrimination may avoid care and ignore treatment recommendations," states lead researcher Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD, a UCLA professor and RAND health researcher. "We need to focus on what leads patients to perceive discrimination, whether real or misunderstood, and address it."

Among those reporting perceived discrimination, they tended to report less access to care and less trust in their care providers, as well as lower ratings for the quality of past medical and hospital care.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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