HIV Stigma Scale (HSS) and Pakistani Culture

With reference to the study “Urdu translation and adaptation of the HIV stigma scale in Pakistani inject able drug users with HIV” which was published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association (March 2020, Volume 70, Issue 3), the level of stigma in Pakistan can be reflected through the findings of a study conducted at workplaces across major cities of Pakistan. Findings revealed that 65% of the respondents were fired from their jobs after they disclosed that they had HIV, and 29% of the respondents were forced to resign. Findings like this necessitate the need to study HIV/AIDS from psycho-social aspect in Pakistan.

However, there is no such instrument available that can be used to measure HIV/AIDS-related stigma specifically in the Pakistani cultural context. Worldwide, the HIV stigma scale (HSS) is used to determine the level of stigma.

The HSS was developed to measure the stigma as perceived by HIV/AIDS infected people. Based on the conceptual model of perceived stigma, the four different dimensions of the scale cover the three main mechanisms of HIV stigma which can be experienced by HIV/AIDS infected people, as enacted stigma involving experiences of discrimination and prejudice; anticipated stigma involving fear of stigma; and internalized stigma refers to negative feelings and beliefs that HIV/AIDS infected people have about themselves due to their disease. Perceived stigma may cause various negative consequences on the psychosocial level, such as a negative change in self concept and negative emotional reactions.

Thus, people with HIV/AIDS may not disclose their status due to the fear of a stigmatizing response, and try to avoid social interactions, thus leading to isolation. This potential for stigmatization may also lead to unwillingness to be tested for HIV, which can cause serious threat to HIV/AIDS prevention and early treatment. The HSS has been used in researches to study the association of HIV/AIDS related stigma with a wide range of variables such as psychological disorders, quality of life, psychological symptoms, disclosure concerns, social support and self-esteem.

Further, it has been used to measure HIV/AIDS stigma in different countries, including south India and eastern Nigeria, and various age groups. The scale has also been translated and adapted to different languages, including Swedish, Tamil2 and Spanish. The current study was planned to translate the HSS into Urdu language so that it can contribute to the assessment of HIV-related stigma in Pakistan by adapting a culture-based scale. The objective was to evaluate the reliability and construct validity of HSS7 and to evaluate the association of HIV/AIDS stigma with depression and self-esteem.


Complied and edited by: Faisal Naveed TOOR, Group Executive Editor, Daily “QADAMAT” Lahore-Pakistan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *