Experience of stigma and discrimination and the implications for healthcare seeking behavior among people living with HIV/AIDS in resource-limited setting
Background: Stigma and discrimination can limit access to care and treatment services. Stigma hides HIV from the public, resulting in reduced pressure for behavioral change. For effective behavior change, empirically grounded and theory-based behavioral change approaches are fundamental as a prevention interventions directed on decreasing stigma and discrimination. The objective of the study was to assess the experience of stigma and discrimination on the psychosocial and health care seeking behavior of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
Methods: This study uses qualitative methods involving focus-group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted in Arba Minch town and nearby Kebeles. Our sample consisted of PLHIV and other key informants who were purposively selected. Data were analyzed manually using thematic content analysis framework.
Results: It appears that the magnitude of stigma and discrimination in the area has decreased to a considerably lower level, however, the problem’s severity is still being influenced by various factors including: current residence, disclosure status and level of community’s awareness about HIV/AIDS. Care and support services provided to PLHIV were well accepted by the respondents and the majority of them were willing to make use of any service available. Health information messages that have been disseminated to the public through mass media since the start of the epidemic in 1984 and AIDS cases in 1986 have played a significant role regarding the current prevailing problem of stigma and discrimination of PLHIV.
Conclusion: Stigma and discrimination have come to a level that can be tolerated by most PLHIV that live in this region, especially those who have disclosed their HIV status and were living in urban areas. This calls for a strategy that improves the rates of serostatus disclosure after HIV counseling and testing and strengthens and integrates activities in the task of expanding care and support activities.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, stigma, discrimination, EPPM, Ethiopia