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Experience of HIV-related stigma by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), based on gender: A case of PLWHA attending clinic in the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, Imo states, Nigeria

Abstract

Nworuh Okwuchi Blessed and Anthony Ikechukwu Ogbalu

Stigma is a discrediting social label that changes the way an individual looks at himself and disqualifies him from full social acceptance. Related researches show that HIV-related stigma is universal, but the stigma experiences vary from person to person. This paper indentified four forms of stigma experience (internalized stigma, disclosure stigma, public attitude stigma and negative self image stigma); and measured them among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) based on gender. With a purposive sample of 1,552 HIV-positive persons comprising of PLWHA that attended clinic on the four clinic days and willingly completed and returned the questionnaire within the one month of collecting data. 626 of them, representing 40.3% were males while 926 representing 59.7% were females. A 40 item standard BergerStigma survey questionnaire was used. Data collected were scored and analyzed using t-test to get the mean score of stigma experience for each form of stigma at 5% level of significance. The male and female PLWHA experience the four forms of stigma (107.32 stigma mean score for females and 101.46 stigma mean score for males); but the females have higher mean scores of stigma experience than males in internalized stigma, disclosure and negative self image. Hence, there is a significant difference in stigma experience of PLWHA based on gender. Recommendations include gender sensitive antistigma programme, formation of female HIV-support groups, government policy to protect the rights of HIV positive women.

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