The goal of this project was to better understand the experiences and impacts of HIV stigma and discrimination on people living with HIV and to co-create knowledge that has the potential to challenge existing stigma within the healthcare, social services, and public policy sectors in the province of Alberta, Canada. We employed community-based participatory research and a mixed methods design (survey methods and qualitative interviews) to address these questions. An online survey was completed by 148 people living with HIV and semi-structured interviews were conducted with an additional 20 participants. The research findings have been conceptualized within a social ecological model. The four main categories that emerged from the data included personal level factors attributed to HIV stigma, interpersonal factors related to HIV stigma, community factors related to HIV stigma, and HIV stigma in systems and institutions. Within each ecological domain we highlight the strengths and coping strategies people living with HIV identified in the study. Results will be of interest to health researchers and HIV service providers.


HIV, stigma, discrimination, community-based participatory research

Author Bio(s)

Brent Oliver is an Associate Professor in Social Work at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Please direct correspondence to boliver@mtroyal.ca.

Catherine Pearl is an Associate professor, Social Innovation in the Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Social Innovation at the Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Egbert S. Felix – John works at the University of Calgary.

Deborah Norris is a peer researcher with the Alberta HIV Stigma Index from Edmonton, Alberta. Soon after her diagnosis with HIV in 1991, she became involved as an HIV activist and advocates locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

Folasade J. Elizabeth Olaniyan works at the University of Calgary.

Kim Samson has been living with HIV since 2011. She was a Peer Researcher for the Alberta Stigma Index. She currently sits on the Positive Voices Caucus. She is a Board Member at large with the Canadian Positive People Network and is a founding member of the Calgary HIV Social Society where she is the Treasurer/Secretary. She is an advocate/activist for people living with HIV.

Aniela dela Cruz is an associate professor at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary. For 25 years, Aniela has focused on community-based research methods in the areas of HIV health and social care, health of immigrants, and Alberta Indigenous communities. She has extensive work in public health and health policy and addressing health and social inequities experienced by marginalized people.

Gabriel Assselin was policy and research coordinator at the Alberta Community Council on HIV and adjunct assistant professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Lethbridge when this research was conducted. He is currently policy analyst at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Kate Berezowski is a community-based researcher who is passionate about social work. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Work at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

Celeste Hayward Celeste Hayward, MPP, is a Wet’suwet’en woman from Northern BC. Currently the Executive Director of the Alberta Community Council on HIV

Becky Van Tassel works at the Centre for Sexuality, Canada.

Floyd Visser is the executive director of The Back Door A Youth Employment Society and the former executive director of The SHARP (Society Housing AIDS Restricted Persons) Foundation in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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