Specialized training for healthcare professionals (HCP) in order to reduce HIV/AIDS related stigma must be part of a public health model for HIV/AIDS. Tested interventions to reduce HIV/AIDS related stigma among HCP have been mostly absent from these efforts. A qualitative approach was used to assess stigma reduction within a traditional randomized controlled design in order to better understand how our current stigma intervention worked and was understood by 2nd year medical students. After conducting a quantitative follow up survey one-year post intervention we conducted 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with a subsample of our intervention group participants as part of the overall evaluation process. Once the interviews were finished, we transcribed them and used NVivo (v.8) to organized the qualitative data. In the process of analyzing the qualitative data we identified core intervention areas participants described as useful for their training and development: (1) acquiring more HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, (2) increased skills for management of high stigma situations, and (3) the ability to identify socio-structural factors that foster HIV infection among clients. The gathered information is important in order to have a deep understanding of how attitudinal change happens as part of our intervention strategies.


HIV/AIDS, Stigma, Randomized Controlled Trial, Qualitative Evaluation, Medical Students, Puerto Rico

Author Bio(s)

Melissa Marzán-Rodríguez is a Doctor in Public Health with a major in Epidemiology from the Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU). Her research work is based at the Public Health Program at PHSU and the Puerto Rico Department of Health. Is an assistant professor at the Public Health Program at PHSU. It’s Certified Public Health from the National Board of Public Health Examiners. Have been published in journals such as AIDS Care, Journal of International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Her areas of interest include HIV epidemiology, social epidemiology, drug abuse, qualitative methods, men sex with men, social stigma, and health professional’s trainings. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Melissa Marzán-Rodríguez at melissa.marzan.rdz@gmail.com.

Dr. Nelson Varas-Díaz is interested in the social, political and individual level implications of stigmatization. His academic career addresses the role of social and structural factors in the development of stigmatized individual and collective identities. His research has focused on the social stigmatization of disease (i.e., HIV/AIDS, addiction), marginalized groups (i.e., transgender individuals) and cultural practices (i.e., metal music, religion). These interests are manifested through research, policy work, teaching at the graduate level, independent consulting, and community involvement. Other subjects of interest include: (1) qualitative research, (2) mixed methodology, (3) issues related to community participation, and (4) social justice through research. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Nelson Varas-Diaz at, nvaras@mac.com.

Torsten B. Neilands is a Professor at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) in the Department of Medicine and Center’s Methods Core. Originally trained as a social psychologist, he spent eight years as a statistical consultant at the University of Texas academic computing center before coming to CAPS in 2001. Since arriving at CAPS, Dr. Neilands has participated as statistical co-investigator or consultant on over 50 NIH, CDC, and state projects in the areas of HIV prevention, reproductive health, and tobacco prevention. His methodological areas of interest are multivariate statistical models with a special interest in latent variable models for survey scale development and validation, and mixed effects (i.e., multilevel; HLM) models for clustered and longitudinal data. His substantive interests include training the next generation of HIV-prevention prevention researchers working in U.S. minority communities. Dr. Neilands is currently PI of two NIH-sponsored R25 research education grants to foster grant-writing and related research capacity-building for early-career faculty working in U.S. minority communities to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs and to improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. He also actively collaborates as a senior statistician and quantitative methods co-investigator on multiple HIV prevention and tobacco prevention research projects. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Torsten Neilands at, torsten.neilands@ucsf.edu.

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