HIV and AIDS-related stigma in the context of family support and race in South Africa

Ethn Health. 2010 Oct;15(5):441-58. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2010.486029.


Objectives: In this paper, we describe the first phase of a research project designed to quantify the role of race and cultural identity in HIV-related stigma. The ultimate purpose is to develop an intervention that could be implemented in Black and Colored communities in Cape Town, South Africa.

Design: The PEN-3 model provided the theoretical basis for this research. A total of 397 Black and Colored participants were recruited from two communities to complete a 16-item multi-part questionnaire that was developed based on focus groups and key informant interviews. A total of 196 questionnaires were administered in Mitchell's Plain and 201 were administered in Gugulethu. Both communities are located approximately 20 km outside the city of Cape Town in an area known as the Cape Flats. Data were collected on individuals' perceptions of stigma in the contexts of the family, healthcare settings, and the community. However, only the family context is explored here. Participants were also asked to identify what they felt should be the most important area of emphasis for researchers in eliminating stigma. Similarities and differences in perceptions between Black and Colored South Africans were examined.

Results: Data were compiled on the family support domain of stigma. Though most either disagreed or were neutral, nearly equal numbers of Blacks and Coloreds thought stigma occurred in families. Blacks were also more likely than Coloreds to report experiencing stigma in their families. Both Blacks and Coloreds felt the family should be the most important focus of interventions for eliminating HIV-related stigma.

Conclusion: Within the context of the family race, cultural values, and religious and spiritual values all contribute to HIV stigma in South Africa. Interventions should address the role of stigma within families in order to promote better HIV prevention, treatment, and care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Continental Population Groups / ethnology*
  • Family Relations
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections / ethnology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / ethnology
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Environment
  • Social Stigma*
  • South Africa
  • Stereotyping
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult