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Stigma and global health: Developing a research agenda

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland A May 8, 2001, article in The New York Times discusses the plight of miners with AIDS in Botswana. The article states, "Typically, miners who are believed to be infected are shunned. They sit alone in buses that carry workers to the pit. They eat alone in the company kitchens because their colleagues are afraid to share utensils or crockery with them." Although this article focuses on individuals with one disease in one country of Africa, it could be describing the isolation and humiliation that faces people with stigmatizing conditions in many parts of the world.

To explore the relationship between stigma and public health, examine the social and cultural determinants of stigma, explore how stigma prevents people from seeking or getting treatment for disease, and determine future research opportunities, the Fogarty International Center (FIC), in partnership with other National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Offices, U.S. agencies, and domestic and international organizations (see list below), announces a major international conference oriented toward developing a research agenda that will lead to the mitigation of the impact of stigma on individuals and societies. Such an agenda would be expected to include activities designed not only to better understand stigmas social and cultural determinants but also to identify and test ideas for effective new behavioral interventions.

Stigma has been defined as a deeply discrediting attribute that reduces a person to one who is in some way tainted and can therefore be denigrated. It is a pervasive problem that affects health globally, threatening an individuals psychological and physical well-being. It prevents individuals from coming forward for diagnosis and impairs their ability to access care or participate in research studies designed to find solutions. Much attention has been paid to the plight of the stigmatized, including those with
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Contact: Jennifer Cabe
jennifercabe@nih.gov
301-496-2075
NIH/Fogarty International Center
31-Aug-2001


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