A qualitative exploration of cervical and breast cancer stigma in Karnataka, India
This study was designed to examine the prevalence of stigma and its underlying factors in two large Indian cities. Cross-sectional interview data were collected from 1,076 non-HIV patients in multiple healthcare settings in Mumbai and Bengaluru, India. The vast majority of participants supported mandatory testing for marginalized groups and coercive family policies for PLHA, stating that they “deserved” their infections and “didn’t care” about infecting others. Most participants did not want to be treated at the same clinic or use the same utensils as PLHA and transmission misconceptions were common. Multiple linear regression showed that blame, transmission misconceptions, symbolic stigma and negative feelings toward PLHA were significantly associated with both stigma and discrimination. The results indicate an urgent need for continued stigma reduction efforts to reduce the suffering of PLHA and barriers to prevention and treatment. Given the high levels of blame and endorsement of coercive policies, it is crucial that such programs are shaped within a human rights framework.