Shame, Stigma and HIV

Considering Affective Climates and the Phenomenology of Shame Anxiety

  • Luna Dolezal
Keywords: Shame anxiety, stigma, HIV, affective, climates, phenomenology


The affective climate often associated with HIV prevention and care practices is often dominated by negative emotions such as shame, fear and suspicion which arise because of HIV’s historical stigma. This article explores the experiential consequences of this affective climate and the continued stigma associated with HIV, through a focus on the experience of shame anxiety which can be under- stood as the chronic anticipation of shame or shameful exposure. Exploring first- person narratives of gay men living with HIV, the article gives an account of how shame anxiety is central to understanding how stigma causes harm, especially in experiences of chronic illnesses such as HIV. Using a philosophical framework, through phenomenology, it will be demonstrated how shame anxiety manifests in bodily lived experience through the structure of the “horizon”. The article will finish with reflections on how shame anxiety can act as a barrier to the effective delivery of health services for those with stigmatised chronic illnesses and, fur- thermore, why the experience of shame anxiety might be useful to consider when delivering health services.


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How to Cite
Dolezal, L. (2021). Shame, Stigma and HIV: Considering Affective Climates and the Phenomenology of Shame Anxiety. Lambda Nordica, 26(2-3), 47-75.