HIV/AIDS spread due to inject-able drug use in Pakistan

According 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 study was conducted to translate the HSS into Urdu language and assess its psychometric properties through analysis of its reliability and validity.

Internal consistency of the items was analyzed using Cronbach’s alpha and split-half reliability as was done in the development of the original HSS. Values of Cronbach’s alpha coefficients exceeding 0.7 mean that the scale is internally consistent. The Cronbach’s alpha for the total HSS and for the subscales ranged from 0.81 to 0.94 in the current study, indicating that there is an adequate internal consistency for U-HSS and its subscales. The Gutman split-half coefficient for the present study was 0.93 which showed that the Urdu version of the scale had good split-half reliability.

Similarly the test retest reliability of the scale and subscales showed adequate stability over time. The correlation of the scale with depression and self-esteem showed good level of construct validity. The scores of U-HSSS significantly and positively correlated with SSDS scores, indicating convergent validity, and it negatively correlated with the scores of U-RSES, indicating discriminant validity. The findings in this study were consistent with previous studies.

Additionally, considering that one of the major reasons of HIV transmission in Pakistan is injecting drugs, therefore U-HSSS was specifically administered on people who had been diagnosed with HIV due to injecting drug use. This was one of the major studies where the interaction of a social aspect (stigma) with a medical problem (HIV/AIDS) was studied among inject able drug users in Pakistani context. The translation and adaptation of the HSS can help in assessing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and this assessment can help the researchers to explore what psychological and social threats this stigma pose to the people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, specifically due to inject able drug use in Pakistan.

The U-HSS can be used confidently for further research within the limitation of the findings of this study. The psychometric data provided the needed support for the utility of this scale among inject able drug users diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Pakistan. However, like every other study in the field of social sciences, this study has its limitations. Although the HSS is reliable and valid with a large, diverse sample of people living with HIV/AIDS, the psychometric properties of U-HSS have been analyzed for only inject able drug using men across different areas of Pakistan. Therefore, results should be interpreted carefully when generalizing the outcomes. In future, data with more diverse population i.e., both men and women, should be included to have data that may be generalized.

U-HSS was found to be a reliable and valid instrument to be used among injects able drug users in Pakistan. It further showed that HIV/AIDS stigma was associated with high level of depression and low level of self-esteem, thus directing towards the negative psychological impact of HIV/AIDS stigma and highlighting the importance of measuring stigma in clinical practice.


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

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