Open Access Research article

Community patterns of stigma towards persons living with HIV: A population-based latent class analysis from rural Vietnam

Anastasia Pharris1*, Nguyen Phuong Hoa2, Carol Tishelman3, Gaetano Marrone1, Nguyen Thi Kim Chuc2, Ruairí Brugha4 and Anna Thorson1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Global Health/IHCAR, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet; Stockholm, Sweden

2 Health Systems Research Project, Hanoi Medical University; Hanoi, Vietnam

3 Department of Learning, Informatics, Medical Management and Ethics (LIME), Medical Management Center, Karolinska Institutet; Stockholm, Sweden

4 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Population Health Sciences Division, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Dublin, Ireland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:705  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-705

Published: 18 September 2011



The negative effects of stigma on persons living with HIV (PLHIV) have been documented in many settings and it is thought that stigma against PLHIV leads to more difficulties for those who need to access HIV testing, treatment and care, as well as to limited community uptake of HIV prevention and testing messages. In order to understand and prevent stigma towards PLHIV, it is important to be able to measure stigma within communities and to understand which factors are associated with higher stigma.


To analyze patterns of community stigma and determinants to stigma toward PLHIV, we performed an exploratory population-based survey with 1874 randomly sampled adults within a demographic surveillance site (DSS) in rural Vietnam. Participants were interviewed regarding knowledge of HIV and attitudes towards persons living with HIV. Data were linked to socioeconomic and migration data from the DSS and latent class analysis and multinomial logistic regression were conducted to examine stigma group sub-types and factors associated with stigma group membership.


We found unexpectedly high and complex patterns of stigma against PLHIV in this rural setting. Women had the greatest odds of belong to the highest stigma group (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.42-2.37), while those with more education had lower odds of highest stigma group membership (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.32-0.62 for secondary education; OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.10-0.35 for tertiary education). Long-term migration out of the district (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.4-0.91), feeling at-risk for HIV (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.27-0.66), having heard of HIV from more sources (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.3-0.66), and knowing someone with HIV (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.58-0.99) were all associated with lower odds of highest stigma group membership. Nearly 20% of the population was highly unsure of their attitudes towards PLHIV and persons in this group had significantly lower odds of feeling at-risk for HIV (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.33-0.90) or of knowing someone with HIV (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.22-0.46).


Stigma towards PLHIV is high generally, and very high in some sub-groups, in this community setting. Future stigma prevention efforts could be enhanced by analyzing community stigma sub-groups and tailoring intervention messages to community patterns of stigma.

Vietnam; HIV; stigma; Filabavi; latent class analysis