HIV-related stigma in African and Afro-Caribbean communities in the Netherlands: Manifestations, consequences and coping

Sarah E. Stutterheim, Arjan E. R. Bos, Iris Shiripinda, Marijn de Bruin, John B. Pryor, Herman P. Schaalma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


HIV-related stigma in African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora communities in the Netherlands was investigated. Interviews with HIV-positive and HIV-negative community members demonstrated that HIV-related stigma manifests as social distance, physical distance, words and silence. The psychological consequences of HIV-related stigma among those diagnosed with HIV reported were emotional pain, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration and internalised stigma. The social consequences included decreased social network size, limited social support and social isolation, and resulted from not only enacted stigma but also self-imposed social withdrawal. Also, poor treatment adherence was a health-related consequence. People living with HIV employed both problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies to mitigate the negative consequences of stigma. Problem-focused coping strategies included selective disclosure, disengagement, affiliating with similar others, seeking social support and, to a lesser extent, activism. Emotion-focused strategies included distraction, positive reappraisal, religious coping, external attributions, disidentification and acceptance. HIV-related stigma clearly permeates African and Afro-Caribbean communities in the Netherlands, and should be targeted for intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • adaptation, psychological
  • African continental ancestry group
  • denial (psychology)
  • emigrants and immigrants
  • emotions
  • female
  • HIV seronegativity
  • HIV seropositivity
  • humans
  • interview, psychological
  • male
  • Netherlands
  • prejudice
  • quality of life
  • rejection (psychology)
  • safe sex
  • social adjustment
  • social distance
  • social isolation
  • social stigma
  • social support


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