Yale University

The political context of AIDS-related stigma and knowledge in a South African township community.

TitleThe political context of AIDS-related stigma and knowledge in a South African township community.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsForsyth, Brian, Alain Vandormael, Trace Kershaw, and Janis Grobbelaar
JournalSAHARA J : journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance / SAHARA , Human Sciences Research Council
Date Published2008 Jul
KeywordsAcquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Adolescent, Adult, African Continental Ancestry Group, Attitude to Health, Causality, Denial (Psychology), Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Policy, Humans, Male, Mass Media, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, National Health Programs, Politics, Poverty, Questionnaires, Regression Analysis, South Africa, Stereotyping, Urban Population
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to examine the presentation of AIDS-related stigma and knowledge within the political context of the South African government's response to the AIDS epidemic. It was during the 2000 - 2004 period that key government officials publicly challenged the orthodox views of HIV/AIDS, with the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, actively positing the primary role of poverty and other socio-economic stressors in the progression of the AIDS epidemic. This discursive position had real-time effects for AIDS policy-making and ultimately delayed the implementation of a national antiretroviral (ARV) rollout programme. Consequently this position was criticised by commentators in the media and elsewhere for contributing to an already widespread climate of AIDS stigmatization and misinformation. To shed more light on these claims we conducted a survey in 2005 in Atteridgeville, a South African township, and compared results with those of a similar survey conducted shortly after ARV medications became available in 2004. Results indicated a reduction in AIDS stigma levels across the 1-year period, and that those participants who endorsed contentious political views (such as those expressed by key government officials) were more likely to have a higher level of AIDS-related stigma than those who disagreed. Nevertheless, this study cautions against drawing a causal relationship between the South African government's position and IDS-stigmatizing attitudes, and suggests that further political and social factors be accounted for in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of this seemingly complex relationship.
Alternate JournalSAHARA J

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