African Journal of AIDS Research

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Stigma and HIV disclosure in the Cape Metropolitan area, South Africa

Ceridwyn Klopper, Ethelwynn Stellenberg, Anita van der Merwe


Disclosure rates of HIV-positive status remain low and are considered to be related to stigmatisation. Determining the factors that influence a person’s decision to disclose a positive status is essential to understanding the process of and ways to improve disclosure rates. This study investigated the factors that influence the disclosure of a person’s HIV-positive status and focused on socio-demographic factors, stigma and discrimination, religion, culture, fear of abandonment and rejection as well as knowledge of the disease that may all influence disclosure rates. A facility based descriptive cross-sectional research design with a quantitative approach was applied using convenience sampling. The sample comprised 150 individuals which was 12.5% of the study population. A self-administered questionnaire comprising mainly closed-ended questions, with a limited number of open ended questions was designed, tested and utilised. Statistical associations were determined between the demographic factors and responses to the questions. The open ended questions were analysed thematically by means of content analysis to extract meaning. The results revealed that fear of stigmatisation, especially among the male participants, was a major reason for delayed or non-disclosure. The results of the total study sample also showed that the level of education influenced the fear of stigmatisation; those with secondary school level education were most afraid of this (29%). There was a statistically significant association between fear of blame or discrimination and disclosure to the sexual partner. This fear was most often cited by the participants who had never married (19%). The participants who feared blame or discrimination the most reported having no income (23%). The findings of this study indicate that numerous factors influence HIV disclosure. Stigma of individuals who are HIV-positive remains a barrier to disclosure as well as fear of blame and discrimination. Recommendations were made to facilitate and increase disclosure rates. This should include community based support groups and advocating partners to attend voluntary counselling and testing together to minimise the fear of blame.

Keywords: counselling, discrimination, people living with HIV/AIDS, prevention

African Journal of AIDS Research 2014, 13(1): 37–43
AJOL African Journals Online