Do customers flee from HIV?: a survey of HIV stigma and its potential economic consequences on small businesses in Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa

SOURCE: AIDS and Behavior
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L-W.Chao, H.Szrek, R.Leite, S.Ramlagan, K.Peltzer
KEYWORDS: ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE, HIV/AIDS, PRETORIA, SMALL MEDIUM AND MICRO ENTERPRISES, STIGMATISATION
DEPARTMENT: Social Aspects of Public Health (SAPH)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9525

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Abstract

HIV stigma and discrimination affect care seeking behavior and may also affect entrepreneurial activity. We interview 2382 individuals in Pretoria, South Africa, and show that respondents believe that businesses with known HIV+ workers may lose up to half of their customers, although the impact depends on the type of business. Survey respondents' fear of getting HIV from consuming everyday products sold by the business - despite a real infection risk of zero - was a major factor driving perceived decline in customers, especially among food businesses. Respondents' perceptions of the decline in overall life satisfaction when one gets sick from HIV and the respondent's dislike of people with HIV were also important predictors of potential customer exit. We suggest policy mechanisms that could improve the earnings potential of HIV+ workers: reducing public health scare tactics that exacerbate irrational fear of HIV infection risk and enriching public health education about HIV and ARVs to improve perceptions about people with HIV.