Stigma Index Update

We are now near the end of the interviewing period for the study. Our 12 wonderful interviewers have so far met with 175 people from across New Zealand, sitting with them to complete the questionnaire booklet, hear their stories, and share experiences. The arrival of COVID-19 to New Zealand understandably changed things, requiring us to adapt our practices and for interviewing to go online. However, it also gave us time to pause and reflect, as it was clear that the similarities in the public discourse between COVID and HIV were distressing for many in the community.

I think meeting the participants and interviewing has had a profound effect on the interviewers. There is a privilege in being able to sit with people, talk about their lives, their wellbeing, and their support systems. For me, it has been a privilege to receive these stories and to have this insight. One interviewer shared with me that every person has been unique and deals with their life experiences and relationships in unique ways. The one common factor across participants has been enormous courage and determination.

I have seen the interviewers grow and develop their skills as they gain more experience interviewing and met with more people. Each of them has built a layered understanding of stigma and discrimination and the impact that it has on our communities through collecting these stories. Their insights are invaluable in understanding key areas that continue to emerge across the interviews, seeing also similarities in what people have found it difficult to discuss. Such reflections will be pivotal in shaping our understandings and analysing the data.