Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 2061–2069 | Cite as

Overcoming HIV Stigma? A Qualitative Analysis of HIV Cure Research and Stigma Among Men Who Have Sex with Men Living with HIV

  • Feng Wu
  • Alice Zhang
  • Andrew Babbitt
  • Qingyan Ma
  • Nir Eyal
  • Xin Pan
  • Weiping Cai
  • Fengyu Hu
  • Yu Cheng
  • Joseph D. Tucker
Original Paper


Despite global progress in HIV stigma reduction, persistent HIV stigma thwarts effective HIV service delivery. Advances in HIV biomedical research toward a cure may shift perceptions of people living with HIV and HIV stigma. The purpose of this study was to examine how men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV in Guangzhou, China perceive HIV cure research and its potential impact on MSM and HIV stigma. We conducted in-depth interviews with 26 MSM living with HIV about their perceptions of HIV cure research and the potential impact of an HIV cure on their lives. Thematic coding was used to identify themes and structure the analysis. Two overarching themes emerged. First, participants stated that an HIV cure may have a limited impact on MSM-related stigma. Men noted that most stigma toward MSM was linked to stereotypes of promiscuity and high rates of sexual transmitted diseases in the MSM community and might persist even after a cure. Second, participants believed that an HIV cure could substantially reduce enacted, anticipated, and internalized stigma associated with HIV. These findings suggest that a biomedical cure alone would not remove the layered stigma facing MSM living with HIV. Comprehensive measures to reduce stigma are needed.


HIV cure HIV-related stigma MSM China Sexual orientation 



The authors would like to thank Guangzhou Eighth People’s Hospital and UNC Project-China for their administrative support, and Gail E. Henderson and Yang Zhao for their research assistance and advice.


This work was supported by the National Institute of Health NIAID under Grant Nos. 1R01A108366-01 and 1R01AI114617-01A1.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feng Wu
    • 1
  • Alice Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew Babbitt
    • 1
  • Qingyan Ma
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nir Eyal
    • 4
  • Xin Pan
    • 1
  • Weiping Cai
    • 5
  • Fengyu Hu
    • 5
  • Yu Cheng
    • 6
  • Joseph D. Tucker
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.University of North Carolina Project-ChinaGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Global Health and Infectious DiseasesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Harvard University Program in Ethics and HealthHarvard UniversityBostonUSA
  5. 5.Infectious Diseases InstituteGuangzhou Eighth People’s HospitalGuangzhouChina
  6. 6.School of Sociology and AnthropologySun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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