Research data about HIV stigma perceptions and discriminatory attitudes among the general population are limited. Furthermore, the willingness of HIV-negative individuals to engage with HIV prevention and disclosure interventions has not been established in South Africa. The study investigated community perceptions of stigma as well as discriminatory attitudes towards HIV disclosure to understand if and how these perceptions might influence the uptake of disclosure interventions. This facility-based study used a validated questionnaire to measure the four constructs of HIV stigma among 670 adults recruited from health districts of two provinces of South Africa. Of these, 72% were female, 87% had ever been tested for HIV, and 31% knew someone who has HIV. Stigma towards people living with HIV (PLHIV) is widespread in the general population. A high proportion (75%) endorsed disclosure concerns, 75% perceived stigma to be common, and 56% endorsed negative statements indicating perceived stigma in communities. Fear, moral and social judgement, and rejection underlined their perceptions about PLHIV. Almost half (45.7%) were unwilling to care for family members sick with AIDS, suggesting negative distancing reactions and discriminatory attitudes towards PLHIV. The widespread discriminatory attitudes and the perceived stigma that is evident in the general population might heighten the disclosure concerns endorsed, promote non-disclosure, and increase HIV transmission. To design interventions, it is crucial to be cognisant of disclosure concerns, discriminatory attitudes, and perceived stigma evident in communities. Thus, the findings underscore the need to increase efforts to challenge and reduce community drivers of negative discriminatory attitudes and perceived stigma.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2023|
- HIV related stigma
- South Africa
- disclosure concerns
- people living with HIV (PLHIV)