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HIV issues and people with disabilities: A review and agenda for research


  • Groce, Nora Ellen
  • Rohleder, Poul
  • Eide, Arne Henning
  • MacLachlan, Malcolm
  • Mall, Sumaya
  • Swartz, Leslie


The recent AIDS and Disability Partners Forum at the UN General Assembly High Level Meetings on AIDS in New York in June 2011 and the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC in July 2012 underscores the growing attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS on persons with disabilities. However, research on AIDS and disability, particularly a solid evidence base upon which to build policy and programming remains thin, scattered and difficult to access. In this review paper, we summarise what is currently known about the intersection between HIV and AIDS and disability, paying particular attention to the small but emerging body of epidemiology data on the prevalence of HIV for people with disabilities, as well as the increasing understanding of HIV risk factors for people with disabilities. We find that the number of papers in the peer-reviewed literature remains distressingly small. Over the past 20 years an average of 5 articles on some aspect of disability and HIV and AIDS were published annually in the peer-reviewed literature from 1990 to 2000, increasing slightly to an average of 6 per year from 2000 to 2010. Given the vast amount of research around HIV and AIDS and the thousands of articles on the subject published in the peer-reviewed literature annually, the continuing lack of attention to HIV and AIDS among this at risk population, now estimated to make up 15% of the world's population, is striking. However, the statistics, while too limited at this point to make definitive conclusions, increasingly suggest at least an equal HIV prevalence rate for people with disabilities as for their non-disabled peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Groce, Nora Ellen & Rohleder, Poul & Eide, Arne Henning & MacLachlan, Malcolm & Mall, Sumaya & Swartz, Leslie, 2013. "HIV issues and people with disabilities: A review and agenda for research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 31-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:77:y:2013:i:c:p:31-40
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.10.024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elwan, Ann, 1999. "Poverty and disability : a survey of the literature," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 21315, The World Bank.
    2. Collins, Pamela Y., 2006. "Challenges to HIV prevention in psychiatric settings: Perceptions of South African mental health care providers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 979-990, August.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:1:31-37_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1993:83:4:568-570_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Anderson, Paul & Kitchin, Rob, 2000. "Disability, space and sexuality: access to family planning services," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(8), pages 1163-1173, October.
    6. Collins, Pamela Y. & von Unger, Hella & Armbrister, Adria, 2008. "Church ladies, good girls, and locas: Stigma and the intersection of gender, ethnicity, mental illness, and sexuality in relation to HIV risk," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 389-397, August.
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