Stigma and Discrimination: Coping Strategies for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Rural America


Angela Anima-Korang, Southern Illinois University, USA
Bryan O. Gere, Alabama A&M University, USA
Nahal Salimi, Southern Illinois University, USA
Email: [email protected]
Published: April 30, 2018

Citation: Anima-Korang, A., Gere, B. O., & Salimi, N. (2018). Stigma and Discrimination: Coping Strategies for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Rural America. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 4(1).


Individuals with HIV/AIDS that live in rural areas experience significant stigma that creates psychosocial stress, depression, anxiety and reduced self-esteem. Coping with stigma and discrimination is a significant aspect of living with HIV/AIDS and has implications for the psychological and physical well-being of these individuals (Moskowitz, Hult, Bussolari & Acree, 2009). This study examined the relationship between stigma and discrimination, and coping strategies used by People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in rural areas using a mixed method study design. HIV-positive individuals served by the Illinois HIV Care Connect in Region 5, completed the survey for the study. The results showed that self-isolation was the most preferred method of coping, closely followed by engaging in destructive behaviors or reactions. The least preferred method was seeking spiritual guidance. Results of regression analysis also revealed that spending more years in care and having more social support really do have an effect on coping with HIV stigma and discrimination among the rural population. Implications for health and human services workers such as rehabilitation counselors and health communication officers are discussed.


HIV/AIDS, stigma, discrimination, coping, rural population