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Forty Percent of HIV-Positive, Transitional Housing Residents in New York City Experience Discrimination From Health Care System, Study Says

May 7, 2007

About 40% of HIV-positive people living in transitional housing in New York City report having experienced discrimination when dealing with the health care system, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the journal Public Health Reports, according to Reuters Health. Perceived discrimination was determined by asking study participants if someone in the health system had ever shown hostility or a lack of respect, refused them service or paid less attention to them compared with others, Reuters Health reports.

For the study, Nancy Sohler of City University of New York and colleagues surveyed 523 HIV-positive people residing in New York City temporary housing facilities. The study found that almost 40% of respondents reported having experienced some type of discrimination in the health care system. Of the group who had experienced discrimination, 60% said that their HIV-positive status was the underlying reason, 50% cited drug use, 35% said it was because of homelessness and 35% said it was caused by their race or ethnicity, the study found.

Perceived discrimination was "significantly associated" with the duration of knowing one's status, the use of nonprescription opiods, including heroin, oxycodone and codeine; white race; female gender; and younger age, Reuters Health reports. According the study, those who perceived discrimination were significantly more likely to give lower ratings for quality of health care and trust in HIV care providers. "Our data show that perceived discrimination is a strong and consistent predictor of poor ratings of the health care system, which may negatively influence health behaviors," Sohler said, concluding, "Thus, it is crucial for providers to address discrimination with their patients" (Reuters Health, 5/3).

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