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Keywords:

  • gay male youth;
  • health professionals;
  • HIV;
  • risk assessments;
  • stigma

O’BYRNE P and WATTS J. Nursing Inquiry 2012 [Epub ahead of print] Include, differentiate and manage: gay male youth, stigma and healthcare utilization

In Canada, there has been a recent increase in HIV incidence among young men who have sex with men. However, gay male youth (GMY) may forego HIV testing due to fear of stigmatization. Therefore, the aim of this research was to explore the perceptions of stigma in health care within this population. The research was conducted through a series of semi-structured interviews with eight GMY aged 20–29, who frequented a gay-friendly clinic in downtown Ottawa, Canada. In a sub-analysis of the interviews utilizing the work of Hardt and Negri’s three-part sequence – inclusion, differentiation and management – we found that homosexuality-related stigmatization affects the interaction between GMY and health professionals. Interview participants perceived HIV-related risk counselling as a manifestation of stigma. These findings reveal that the experience of stigma and stigmatization is not necessarily based on health professionals’ intentions, but rather, on patients’ perceptions of the interactions they have with health professionals. Specific modifications to the delivery of health care may help to overcome stigmatization.