Socio-economic status and HIV/AIDS stigma in Tanzania

AIDS Care. 2011 Mar;23(3):378-82. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2010.507739.


Tanzania has a generalised AIDS epidemic but the estimated adult HIV prevalence of 6% is much lower than in many countries in Southern Africa. HIV infection rates are reportedly higher in urban areas, among women and among those with more education. Stigma has been found to be more common in poorer, less-educated people, and those in rural areas. We examined associations between poverty and other variables and a stigmatising attitude (belief that HIV/AIDS is punishment for sinning). The variables we examined in a multivariate model included: food sufficiency (as an indicator of poverty), age, sex, marital status, education, experience of intimate partner violence, condom-related choice disability, discussion about HIV/AIDS, sources of information about HIV/AIDS and urban or rural residence. Of the 1,130 men and 1,803 women interviewed, more than half (58%) did not disagree that "HIV/AIDS is punishment for sinning". Taking other variables into account, people from the poorest households (without enough food in the last week) were more likely to believe HIV/AIDS is punishment for sinning (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.29, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.06-1.59). Others factors independently associated with this stigmatising attitude were: having less than primary education (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.03-1.62); having experienced intimate partner violence in the last year (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.12-1.75); being choice disabled for condom use (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.08-1.71); and living in rural areas (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.06-2.90). The level of HIV and AIDS stigma in Tanzania is high with independent associations with several disadvantages: poverty, less education and living in rural areas. Other vulnerable groups, such as survivors of intimate partner violence, are also more likely to have a stigmatising attitude. HIV prevention programmes should take account of stigma, especially among the disadvantaged, and take care not to increase it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals
  • Poverty
  • Religion*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Stigma*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Young Adult