This article describes the effects of a national mass media and community-level stigma-reduction programme in Ghana, in which national and local religious leaders urged their congregations and the general public to have greater compassion for people living with HIV or AIDS (PLHA). Data were collected from men and women living in three regions, first in 2001 (n = 2 746) and again in 2003 (n = 2 926). Attitudes related to a punitive response to PLHA both improved over time and were positively associated with exposure to the programme's campaign, controlling for potential confounding variables. Respondents in the 2003 survey were 20% more likely than respondents in the 2001 survey to be willing to care for an HIV-infected relative in their own household and 40% more likely to believe that an HIV-infected female teacher should be allowed to continue teaching. Overall, respondents exposed to the campaign were 45% more likely than those not exposed to it to be willing to care for a HIV-infected relative, and 43% more likely to believe that an HIV-infected female teacher should be allowed to continue teaching. Respondents exposed to the campaign also had significantly more favourable scores on an attitude scale measuring the belief that HIV-infected individuals should be isolated from others. The results of this evaluation suggest that mass media channels and religious leaders can effectively address HIV-related stigma on a national scale.
Keywords: attitudes, country programmes, discrimination, household surveys, mass media, opinion leaders, West Africa
African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(1): 133–141