Trust in science, homonegativity and HIV stigma: Experimental data from the United Kingdom and Germany

Rusi Jaspal, Sarah Gardner, Pauline Zwach, Maddie Green, Glynis M. Breakwell

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Abstract

HIV stigma and its corollary HIV fear constitute significant barriers to HIV prevention. This quasi-experimental study examined social psychological predictors of HIV stigma and HIV fear, respectively, based on data from 516 participants in the United Kingdom and Germany. Participants completed baseline measures of HIV knowledge, trust in science and scientists and homonegativity. They were then randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions with vignettes describing (1) a gay man with HIV, (2) a heterosexual man with HIV, or (3) the control condition. Participants completed post-manipulation measures of HIV stigma and HIV fear. HIV knowledge and trust in science and scientists were negatively associated with HIV stigma and fear. Baseline homonegativity was positively correlated with HIV stigma and fear. Being exposed to a vignette describing a heterosexual man led to less HIV stigma than being exposed to a vignette describing a gay man and the control condition (in which no sexual orientation was explicitly mentioned). The results suggest that, in addition to promoting HIV knowledge and trust in science and scientists, public health messaging concerning HIV should shift from a focus on gay men to heterosexuals and that homonegativity (higher in men) must continue to be tackled.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalStigma and Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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