The Science of Stigma

Being stigmatized is the antithesis of feeling safe.

The reality of living in society is there is always a possibility that a minority group of people might be labeled as “different” due to their status. This devaluing is called stigmatization. Stigmatization could be due to a certain characteristic or identity of condition, including sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or disease status. But what does that to do the marginalized? Unsurprisingly, social, institutionalized and internalized stigma can have adverse effects on the psychology and health of these people.

Dr. Sarah Stutterheim studies the cause of stigmatization of HIV positive people, and the consequences of this marginalization. She also touches on what can be done about stigma, and how we can work to eradicate it – education, awareness, empathy and allyship. This coupled with the resilience and activism from the minority groups themselves can really make a difference to ensure societal equity.


  1. Phelan Stigma and prejudice: one animal or two? Soc Sci Med. 2008 Aug;67(3):358-67. (doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.022).
  2. Bos et. al. Stigma: Advances in theory and Research. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Volume 35, 2013 (htps://
  3. Stutterheim et. al. Patient and Provider Perspectives on HIV and HIV-Related Stigma in Dutch Health Care Settings. AIDS PATIENT CARE and STDs Volume 28, Number 12, 2014 (DOI: 10.1089/apc.2014.0226)
  4. Stigma intervention for health care
  5. Panel discussion on the stigma associated with being HIV positive.

© ShebaAJ, Sarah Stutterheim

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