HIV/AIDS stigma in a South African community.
HIV/AIDS-related stigma threatens to undermine interventions to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. To address stigma in a South African community, a thorough understanding of the nature of stigma in the specific cultural context is needed. The goals of this research were to assess the level of stigmatising attitudes among members of a community, compare this to the level of stigma that is perceived to exist within the community and determine to what extent stigmatising attitudes are affected by socio-demographic characteristics, HIV-related experience and cultural beliefs. A questionnaire was completed by 1077 respondents in key areas in two communities in Tshwane, South Africa. The questionnaire included an assessment of HIV-related experience, HIV-knowledge, personal stigma and perceptions of stigma within the community. The findings indicate that the level of personal stigma was significantly lower than that perceived to be present in the community. Respondents who were more stigmatising were older, male, less educated and less knowledgeable about HIV. They were less likely to know someone with HIV and had more traditional cultural viewpoints. While socio-demographic and cultural factors are difficult to change, efforts aimed at increasing people's knowledge and experience of the epidemic occurring in their community could change the level of stigmatising attitudes within their community. Such efforts could have potential benefits in addressing the epidemic and providing greater support for those with HIV.
Visser, MJ; Makin, JD; Vandormael, A; Sikkema, KJ; Forsyth, BWC
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