Stigma, AIDS and HIV Prevention in Africa

Reports from Community Organizations Providing Prevention Services

Published In: Journal of Human Behavior In the Social Environment, v. 18, no. 3, 2008, p. 329-349

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Eric G. Benotsch, David W. Seal, L. Yvonne Stevenson, Cheryl A. Sitzler, Jeffrey A. Kelly, Laura M. Bogart, Cheryl Gore-Felton

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The AIDS epidemic in Africa remains a serious health crisis. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa play a critical role in the delivery of HIV prevention services. An important barrier to their HIV prevention efforts is stigma directed at persons living with HIV/AIDS. In order to understand how stigma affects HIV prevention programming, the authors conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with NGO directors in 29 African countries. Qualitative analytic approaches were used to identify key themes. Substantial discrimination and stigmatization of HIV-positive persons was reported. HIV-positive women were particularly likely to suffer negative social and economic consequences. The stigma associated with HIV interfered with disclosure of HIV status, risk-reduction behaviors, and HIV testing, creating significant barriers to HIV prevention efforts. Interventions to reduce AIDS-related stigma in Africa are urgently needed. Reducing the burden of stigma is critical to fighting the epidemic in Africa and could play an important role in global HIV reduction.

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