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Healthcare Practitioner Stigma

Have you ever experienced it? How did you handle it? What advice do you have for others that could encounter it?

  1. Yes it was horrible I’ve only experienced stigma in a Drs office. I was diagnosed while pregnant through routine blood work from my OBGYN she admitted in my diagnosis appointment that I was her first HIV positive patient.


    My next appointment a month later I waited in the waiting room well over an hour past my appointment and they claimed my appointment I had a conformation email about wasn’t on the schedule, but they were going to squeeze me in.


    After I was finally brought back to a room my Dr spoke to me from clear across the room claimed she had a cold. If she was that sick why was she there seeing other pregnant women?
    I was referred to a high risk/HIV OBG for half of my medical care anyway so I ended up switching and never went back.
    My first infectious disease doctor was so robotic and matter of fact. I was in shock from an HIV diagnosis two days after my first child’s sonogram. He not only told me I had AIDS but that I was going to die of cancer and not AIDS. 😳 Yes this might be something he says every day, and to him I was just another face to stereotype.


    I can’t stand having Drs who lack empathy and are on autopilot. My mental health should not be affected because of my medical care providers emotional burnout.

    1. Alafia (Peace) Brooklyn , That is absolutely unacceptable. I am glad you are stronger than the words which were spoken to you. If you don't mind me asking, what city and state did this happen? Khafre (H-I-V.net Team Member)

    2. Alafia (Peace) I am sorry you had to experience that stigma. It's never good for us as patience to have those kinds of reactions to us as people. I hope things get better. Khafre (H-I-V.net Team Member)


  2. I have faced healthcare practitioner stigma in multiple ways. One would be a cardiologist who asked me every appointment when my transfusion was done which caused me to be positive... Which is not my story! When I would remind him of my story, he would tell me how uncommon it is for a heterosexual woman to get HIV from a partner.... Um.. What!?! Needless to say, there are reasons I do not see him anymore. So many reasons.


    I have had nurses at the ER completely change how they treat me upon finding out that I am positive (even when they were not dealing with blood draws). I Have had an ID doctor continuously ask me about drug usage like I had to be a drug user to be positive.


    Personally, I try to remind everybody that a doctor works for you. If they do not treat you correctly, FIRE THEM! After that initial ID doctor, I had a consultation appointment with 3 other ID doctors before I found the one that I have now. I love my current ID doctor and her nurse and I could not be happier that I chose to look around for a new one.
    It is harder to deal with healthcare practitioner stigma in a ER / hospital like setting. But typically if the nurses are treating you poorly, you can ask for the charge nurse and make the complaint. I typically ignore any extra precautions nurses feel they need to take (even when they are not drawing blood). By this I mean that if a nurse chooses to wear two pairs of gloves, it is not my problem. But if they decide to treat me poorly, that is a problem.
    It is important to remember to advocate for yourself. Or have another person advocate for you. You do not have to accept poor care because you are HIV positive! - Heather R (team member)

    1. Alafia (Peace) I recently experienced stigma and Bisexual erasure when trying to get a monkey pox vaccine. I handled it by not leaving the clinic until I received the vaccine. I pushed back. Khafre (H-I-V.net Team Member)

      1. It is such a good thing that you were able to advocate for yourself in this situation. But it does make me wonder how many people this doctor potentially turned away without giving them the vaccine. I almost feel like somebody above her needs to be made aware of her poor behavior.
        I am so sorry you had to endure this! Sending lots of love - Heather R (Team Member)

      2. That's what I walked away thinking about. Khafre (H-I-V.net Team Member)

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