Manifestations and reduction strategies of stigma and discrimination on people living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania

P Mutalemwa, W Kisoka, V Nyigo, V Barongo, M N Malecela, W N Kisinza
Tanzania Journal of Health Research 2008, 10 (4): 220-5
HIV/AIDS-related stigma, and its associated discrimination, is known to negatively affect all aspects of HIV prevention, care and treatment. Studies have revealed the extent to which individuals are stigmatized and discriminated against the health care system. However, there has been limited information on stigma manifestations and reduction interventions. The main objective of the study was to determine the magnitude and factors influencing HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination with a specific focus on the manifestations and reduction interventions. In-depth interviews, exit interviews and focus group discussions were deployed in the study. Results have shown that HIV/AIDS is increasingly conceptualized as a continuum between prevention and care, effects of stigma and discrimination are from both health facilities and communities. While religious leaders isolate people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and consider them as most promiscuous, health workers also have strong negative attitudes and feelings and as a result PLWHAs refrain from counselling and testing services. A stigmatizing social environment was found to pose barriers to all strategies and/or interventions that are aimed at reducing this situation. Because of stigma and discrimination, people living with HIV/AIDS receive inadequate treatment, as such they decline to divulge their status to partners or change their behaviour avoiding depressing reactions. Basing on that therefore, adequate outreach services at both community and health facility levels be established and line up in the fight against stigma and discrimination facing people living with HIV/AIDS.

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