Experiences of people living with HIV and people living close to them of a comprehensive community–based HIV stigma reduction and wellness enhancement intervention
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) remains a highly stigmatised condition for people living with HIV or AIDS (PLHA) and people living close to them (PLC) within the African context as well as in other countries. PLC often take part in HIV stigmatisation, but they are likewise often the victims thereof. This research was executed in three phases. The research objectives for the first phase of the study was to explore and describe how HIV stigma and disclosure experiences at present impact on the lives of PLHA in a country where the HIV infection rate is the highest in the world, and to explore whether there are differences between urban and rural settings. The objective of the second phase of the research was to describe the implementation of a comprehensive community-based HIV stigma reduction and wellness enhancement intervention that focused on PLHA as well as PLC from six designated groups, namely partners, children, family members, friends, spiritual leaders and community members. The objective of the third phase was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of both the PLHA and PLC by the six designated groups after they had undergone a comprehensive community-based HIV stigma reduction and wellness enhancement intervention. Attention was focused on their expressed experiences of the workshop and projects executed by them in their communities. During the first and third phases of the research a qualitative interpretive description approach was followed. A holistic multiple case study design was used for the second phase. Purposive voluntary sampling was used for the PLHA and snowball sampling for the PLC. Data collection during the first and third phases took place using in-depth interviews in an urban and a rural setting in the North West Province, South Africa. The data was manually analysed through open coding. Phase 2 had open coding as well as document analysis. Findings of Phase 1 indicated that HIV stigma and disclosure themes for experiences in the urban and rural settings were mostly similar, with very few differences. Experiences of stigma were still very prevalent, but also led to negative self-judgement. The intervention proved to have been successful, as was reported during the case study and in participants‟ expressed experiences. All participants reported a better understanding of HIV stigma and how to cope with it. Relationships between PLHA and PLC were enhanced. HIV stigma reduction projects developed by PLHA and PLC were executed successfully and the wider community was reached. Leadership skills were developed in order to go out into the community and be part of HIV stigma reduction actions. Some considerations for strengthening the intervention were provided. The intervention in its comprehensive nature was shown to be successful and promising for future use in reducing HIV stigma and enhancing wellness.
- Health Sciences