The Difficulties of Feeling: The Role of Emotions in the Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS

Melissa Marzán-Rodríguez, Nelson Varas-Díaz


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been a source of stigma for people who live with the disease. This stigmatization has been frequently studied from the perspective of stigmatizing agents focusing on opinions. This focus has systematically avoided exploring the role of emotions in the stigmatization process. We carried out this study in order to identify the role of emotions in the process of stigmatization of the people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) by health professionals. In order to achieve this objective we implemented an exploratory and qualitative design using in-depth semi-structured interviews. The sample consisted of 80 health professionals and health profession students from the following specialties: psychology, social work, medicine and nursing. The results reflected the existence of emotions associated to HIV/AIDS such as pity, compassion, disgust, and fear. Participants expressed the need to control their emotions when interacting with PLWHA. The results point to the need to explore factors that mediate emotions, such as the social context in which they are manifested and before whom they are revealed. This is a vital step in order to better understand the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs060428


stigma; HIV/AIDS; emotions; health professionals


Copyright (c) 2006 Melissa Marzán-Rodríguez, Nelson Varas-Díaz

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.