The influence of stigma on voluntary HIV testing among pregnant women in South Africa
Internal and external stigmas are often lumped together while addressing issues of stigma and HIV-testing, not considering that one of them may actually affect the disposition HIV-testing than the other. This study, therefore, investigated the effect of HIV/AIDS-related internal and external stigma on the disposition of pregnant women in the Limpopo Province of South Africa to go for voluntary HIV-testing. Four hundred and fifty seven (457) pregnant women from randomly sampled antenatal clinics in the province participated in the study. Using a quantitative method of research, a questionnaire which inquired about some of their demographic information, their disposition for voluntary HIV-testing uptake, and HIV/AIDS-related internal and external stigma, was administered to them in clinic/hospital settings. Data were analysed using the SPSS computer programme. Linear Regression analysis was employed. Results show that the majority of the pregnant women (88.6%) agreed to go for HIV testing, 4.6% of them did not agree, and 6.8% were undecided. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS-related internal stigma came out to be a significant factor. The more HIV/AIDS-related internal stigma expressed by the pregnant women, the more they are indisposed to go for HIV-testing. Although most of the pregnant women in the province would agree to go for voluntary HIV testing, the issue of HIV/AIDS-related internal stigma needs to be adequately addressed in any clinical psychological or health promotional programme designed to increase voluntary HIV testing uptake among pregnant women, and minimize mother-to-child transmission of the HIV. Often, both internal and external stigmas are equally addressed in health promotional programmes, but this result suggests that among pregnant women, more emphasis should be placed on internal stigma.
Key words: Pregnant women, Stigmatization, HIV-testing uptake, South
*This research project was sponsored by the Medical Research Council
of South Africa.