Community-based interventions that work to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination: results of an evaluation study in Thailand

Aparna Jain, Ratana Nuankaew, Nungruthai Mongkholwiboolphol, Arunee Banpabuth, Rachada Tuvinun, Pakprim Oranop Na Ayuthaya, Kerry Richter
Journal of the International AIDS Society 2013, 16 (3): 18711

INTRODUCTION: HIV stigma and discrimination are major issues affecting people living with HIV in their everyday lives. In Thailand, a project was implemented to address HIV stigma and discrimination within communities with four activities: (1) monthly banking days; (2) HIV campaigns; (3) information, education and communication (IEC) materials and (4) "Funfairs." This study evaluates the effect of project interventions on reducing community-level HIV stigma.

METHODS: A repeated cross-sectional design was developed to measure changes in HIV knowledge and HIV-related stigma domains among community members exposed to the project. Two cross-sectional surveys were implemented at baseline (respondent n=560) and endline (respondent n=560). T-tests were employed to assess changes on three stigma domains: fear of HIV infection through daily activity, shame associated with having HIV and blame towards people with HIV. Baseline scales were confirmed at endline, and each scale was regressed on demographic characteristics, HIV knowledge and exposure to intervention activities.

RESULTS: No differences were observed in respondent characteristics at baseline and endline. Significant changes were observed in HIV transmission knowledge, fear of HIV infection and shame associated with having HIV from baseline to endline. Respondents exposed to three specific activities (monthly campaign, Funfair and IEC materials) were less likely to exhibit stigma along the dimensions of fear (3.8 points lower on average compared to respondents exposed to none or only one intervention; 95% CI: -7.3 to -0.3) and shame (4.1 points lower; 95% CI: -7.7 to -0.6), net of demographic controls and baseline levels of stigma. Personally knowing someone with HIV was associated with low fear and shame, and females were less likely to possess attitudes of shame compared to males.

CONCLUSIONS: The multivariate linear models suggest that a combination of three interventions was critical in shifting community-level stigma--monthly campaign, Funfair and IEC materials. This is especially important given Thailand's new national AIDS strategy to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination by half by 2016. Knowing which interventions to invest in for HIV stigma reduction is crucial for country-wide expansion and scale-up of intervention activities.

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