HIV stigma still haunts Chatsworth residents‚ study finds

A study conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal PhD graduate Dr Yogandra Naidoo found that the fear of being discriminated against and stigmatised has made it impossible for HIV/Aids sufferers in the south Durban township to disclose their status and living their lives.

Naidoo’s research recently earned him a PhD in public health and has paved the way for demystifying the disease in the Indian community.

According to Naidoo very little is known about HIV/Aids among Indians.

He conducted 35 in-depth interviews and five focus group discussions among community members including people living with HIV in Chatsworth.

“There is a lack awareness of HIV prevention and care programmes‚ low condom usage‚ multiple sex partners‚ early sexual debut and low participation in HIV testing and treatment‚” said Naidoo.

The findings also revealed that poverty‚ gender power relations and stigma were major social factors contributing to the growth of HIV/AIDS.

“Poverty places many in vulnerable positions‚ having to choose between treatment and disability grants to buy food for example‚ and gender inequalities make women more susceptible to contracting HIV than men. Furthermore‚ stigma‚ denial and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS makes it difficult for HIV positive people to disclose their status and to live their lives in the community‚” the study stated.

Naidoo believes there’s an “urgent need” to strengthen HIV prevention‚ treatment and care efforts within the Indian community.