The multidimensional nature of HIV stigma: evidence from Mozambique
HIV stigma continues to be a major challenge to addressing HIV/AIDS in various countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Mozambique. This paper explores the multidimensional nature of HIV stigma through the thematic analysis of five qualitative studies conducted in high HIV prevalence provinces in Mozambique between 2009 and 2012. These studies included 23 interviews with people living with HIV (PLHIV) (10 women and 13 men); 6 focus groups with 32 peer educators (24 women and 8 men) working for community-based organisations (CBOs) providing services to PLHIV; 17 focus groups with community members (72 men and 70 women); 6 interviews (4 women and 2 men) with people who had family members living with HIV/AIDS; 24 focus groups (12 with men and 12 with women) and 6 interviews with couples. Our findings indicate that HIV stigma is a barrier to HIV testing and counselling, status disclosure, partner notification, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) access and adherence, and that moral stigma seems to be more common than physical stigma. Additionally, the findings highlight that HIV stigma is a dynamic social process that is conceptualised as being tied to personal responsibility. To effectively diminish HIV stigma in Mozambique, future interventions should address moral stigma and re-conceptualise HIV as a chronic disease.
Keywords: health behavior, HIV/AIDS prevention, HIV stigma, social factors