Puerto Rico is a US territory with an alarming number of HIV/AIDS cases. There are more than 32,000 reported cases in the Island. In this scenario, nurses are in an advantageous position to provide education and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS (PWHA). In Puerto Rico there are more than 26,000 professionals nurses, representing one of the largest numbers of health professionals in the Island. However, NIH funded research suggests that manifestation of HIV/AIDS stigma among health professionals continues to be a significant barrier to effective prevention and service delivery. Furthermore, recent publications have documented how religion can foster the process of stigmatization among health professionals. Religion in Puerto Rico is a highly valued socio-cultural phenomenon. Thus, it is crucial to understand the manifestations of HIV/AIDS stigma among nurses embedded in highly religious context. This will be the first study in Puerto Rico to address the role of religion on HIV/AIDS stigma manifestation among professional nurses. The proposed study has three aims: (1) Explore the perceived role of personal religious beliefs on health services delivery behaviors among professional nurses in Puerto Rico. (2) Document manifestations of HIV/AIDS stigma among professional nurses in Puerto Rico. (3) Examine the role of professional nurses'religious personal beliefs in the manifestation of stigmatizing narratives towards PWHA. In order to achieve the aim 1, the PI will conduct in-depth interviews with professionals'nurses (N=40). The sample will be subdivided through two main criteria: 1) religious identification and 2) gender. Therefore, the final sample will be composed of female nurses that self-identify as religious (n=10), female nurses that do not self-identify as religious (n=10), male nurses that self-identify as religious (n=10), and male nurses that do not self-identify as religious (n=10). The proposed design will allow us to achieve our specific aims while documenting potential variability in the reported narratives due to personal religious beliefs, religious involvement, and direct service experience with PWHA. We have been unable to find published studies that explore how religious beliefs among Puerto Rican professional nurses can foster manifestations of HIV/AIDS stigma. These concerns drive this research proposal.

Public Health Relevance

This study seeks to understand how religion can foster the HIV/AIDS stigma among Puerto Ricans nurses. Considering the alarming number of HIV/AIDS cases in Puerto Rico, this effort can serve as the foundation for future studies that aim to develop and test intervention to address the HIV/AIDS stigma among health professionals embedded in highly religious contexts. This can contribute to better services delivery for PWHA and therefore have a positive impact on public health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dissertation Award (R36)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-M (07))
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Stoff, David M
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Ponce School of Medicine
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United States
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