Intersectionality in HIV and other health-related research


Key take-home messages
  • Human experiences cannot be reduced to singular characteristics as these characteristics interact with others to produce health outcomes.
  • Using social categories, such as class, race, gender, sexual orientation, in HIV and health research risks obfuscating the lived experiences of people with multiple social identities that intersect and affect their health and wellbeing.
  • Intersectionality theory posits that multiple social identities and categories are not additive. That is, an HIV-positive woman who injects drugs does not face the same challenges and have the same needs as the sum of an HIV-positive individual, a woman, and a person who injects drugs. The woman’s lived experience is unique, and thus research and interventions should refrain from generalizing and categorizing in order to include the lived experiences of all populations.
  • Intersectionality-based research encourages research that explores the roots of stigma, discrimination and health care barriers, and the development of interventions that addresses micro (personal/interpersonal), meso (society/community/provincial), and macro (national/policies) causes of health inequities.
  • There is growing evidence from intersectional HIV and health-related research to support the need to incorporate intersectionality theory into health research, with the goals of identifying and addressing social and power structures that cause health inequities and poorer health outcomes within marginalized populations.


The Ontario HIV Treatment Network: Rapid Response Service




  • Determinants of Health
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Other


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