Prof. receives funding from the Vancouver Foundation to investigate roots of HIV stigma

Spring, 2013

Brondani - Donnelly - Kerston -Positive Living Society

Drs. Mario Brondani (C) and Leeann Donnelly meet with Paul Kerston at the Positive Living Society of BC offi ce on Seymour Street in Vancouver.

Public health professional and assistant professor Dr. Mario Brondani has received two-year funding from the Vancouver Foundation to investigate and understand the roots of HIV stigma as it affects two marginalized communities: Aboriginal and refugee/immigrant.

HIV stigma may prevent people from being timely diagnosed and engaging in life-saving care due to misconceptions by the ill individuals about the disease progression, or due to discrimination by health care providers. Stigma may also prevent those who are HIV positive and marginalized from seeking educational health information and services, particularly if they experience disempowerment, health inequity and access to care barriers.

A community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework will be used in the study: focus group discussions (peer-led by volunteer trainees) will inductively explore the experience of HIV-positive community members, while individual interviews with HIV-negative people from the general public will gather their attitudes and beliefs. Brondani is working with co-investigators Dr. Leeann Donnelly, assistant professor in UBC Dentistry, and Paul Kerston from the Positive Living Society of BC.

The study aims to identify the factors contributing to stigma, inform the development of strategies to address and minimize it, and understand the educational and service needs of the two marginalized communities.