Experiences of work among people with disabilities who are HIV-positive in Zambia

  • Janet Njelesani
  • Stephanie Nixon
  • Deb Cameron
  • Janet Parsons
  • Anitha Menon
Keywords: qualitative, disability, stigma, Southern Africa


This paper focuses on accounts of how having a disability and being HIV-positive influences experiences of work among 21 people (12 women, 9 men) in Lusaka, Zambia. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted in English, Bemba, Nyanja, or Zambian sign language. Descriptive and thematic analyses were conducted. Three major themes were generated. The first, a triple burden, describes the burden of having a disability, being HIV-positive, and being unemployed. The second theme, disability and HIV is not inability, describes participants’ desire for work and their resistance to being regarded as objects of charity. Finally, how work influences HIV management, describes the practicalities of working and living with HIV. Together these themes highlight the limited options available to persons with disabilities with HIV in Lusaka, not only secondary to the effects of HIV influencing their physical capacity to work, but also because of the attendant social stigma of being a person with a disability and HIV- positive.

Keywords: qualitative, disability, stigma, Southern Africa


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445