April 23, 2014

A new set of scales has been demonstrated to measure the stigma perceived or experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS and their HIV-uninfected family members, according a study led by Dr. Hongjie Liu, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health. The assessment tools, which were found to show high validity and reliability during testing in China, could help identify "courtesy stigma" that causes feelings of social isolation, shame, fear and stress. The research was published in the journal PLOS One. "Family members of people living with HIV/AIDS feel stigmatized, especially in China, where the collectivist culture emphasizes family dignity," said Dr. Liu. "Although psychometric tools already exist to measure stigma in people living with HIV/AIDS, this is the first instrument that can be used with equal accuracy among their adult family members." According to the paper, the Chinese Courtesy Stigma Scales (CCSSs) have advantages over existing instruments in that they are brief, easy to administer and applicable to diverse populations. It is hoped that the new scales will be used in the development and implementation of family-focused public health interventions to address stigma across HIV-affected families. The paper can be accessed at http://ht.ly/uQybb. Photo: Dr. Hongjie Liu with research collaborators at an STD clinic in Qingdao, China.

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