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Stigma in the Heartland

Stigma in the Heartland


There's bad news for HIVers living in rural areas. Not only is it difficult to find nearby health care providers with expertise in treating HIV, but the doctors in your town sometimes discriminate against you, according to a study by researchers at Indiana University. Reported in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs, the study showed that a high percentage of rural health care providers reported discrimination and stigma when referring HIV-positive patients'as well as patients with substance abuse problems'to other area professionals for care. Some even said rural doctors flat-out refused to accept referrals for HIVers. So what should you do if you're living in a rural community? Contact advisers at an AIDS service organization in the nearest city to see if they can recommend local caregivers, treatment experts say. Your friends might also be a useful resource. Also, check out websites like those of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, and GayHealth'all have search engines to find HIV- and gay-friendly providers throughout the country.

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