Background: The STIGMASurveyUK aims to identify how people living with HIV in the UK experience HIV-related stigma and discrimination in varied settings. We report on the experiences of people living with HIV within healthcare environments.
Methods: The STIGMASurveyUK was developed by people living with HIV and community members, in collaboration with clinicians and researchers. Adults living with HIV in the UK were recruited to complete an online survey from December 2014 to April 2015. Responses were anonymized, stored securely and analysed with community engagement.
Results: 1528 (97%) of participants completed the healthcare section. Mean age was 44 years (range 18­83 years). 1152 (76%) were male (948 [82%] identified as men who have sex with men (MSM)) and 344 (23%) female (322 [93%] identified as heterosexual). 2% identified as trans.
1393 (91%) of respondents reported their GP (primary care doctor) was aware of their status. 55% (883/1528) reported feeling a high level of control in disclosure at the GP, while 54% (828/1528) felt a high level of support during the disclosure process in this setting. Fewer Black African or Caribbean reported feeling supported 47% (150/319) compared to White British participants 58% (552/948) (p< 0.001). A higher proportion of MSM reported feeling supported during disclosure 58.6% (558/952) compared to others 46.9% (270/576)(p< 0.001).
In the past year, a third (498) of participants reported being worried or concerned about being treated differently to other patients at their GP practice and 14% reported avoiding care when required.
13% (195/1528) of respondents who had disclosed to their GP reported being treated differently to other patients at their practice. 19% (59/319) of Black African or Caribbean participants experienced different treatment compared to 10.2% (97/948) of White British participants (p< 0.01).
Conclusions: PLHIV in the UK reported experiences of stigma and discrimination in the general practice setting. This was particularly significant for persons from Black African or Caribbean communities Despite many participants reporting that GP clinic staff is aware of their status, only half report feeling in control and supported during disclosure. Educational tools for staff within GP practices are recommended to address HIV related stigma and discrimination in this setting.