Disparities in attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA): a nationwide study
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A nationwide study on the association of HIV/AIDS with stigma has implications for the way in which individuals, families and communities relate to people living with HIV/AIDS, and also to children who have lost their parents. Sub Saharan Africa is estimated to have 29.4million HIV positive people, while 10 million young people (age 15-24) and almost 3 million children, under the age of 15, are considered to be living with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS/WHO, 2002). In addition to human suffering, discrimination against the infected may lead to rejection and social isolation. The aim of the study was to examine the social and cultural context of HIV transmission and prevention within the various rational, ethnic communities in South Africa. It is part of South Africa's First Population-based HIV/AIDS behavioural risks, saliva and mass media survey, conducted in 2001 - 2002. Qualitative methods were applied, 29 key informants and 39 focussed group interviews were conducted in 9 provinces in South Africa. Key informants included religious leaders, traditional healers, traditional leaders and youth initiation leaders. Focussed group discussions included male and female participants from a variety of ethnical and racial backgrounds, age groups and geographic locations. Interviews in the urban areas were conducted with mixed groups, lesbians Jewish and coloured male and female groups. All transcripts were coded employing both deductive and inductive methods using Atlas.Ti and PEN-3 model for data analysis, respectively. The study found that in respect to social context, age gender and religious background still greatly influence social attitude towards PLWA. Peoples beliefs systems tend to inform the way in which HIV/AIDS is understood and interpreted.