HIV/AIDS-related stigma in South African alcohol-serving venues and its potential impact on HIV disclosure, testing and treatment-seeking behaviours

Glob Public Health. 2015 Oct;10(9):1092-106. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2014.1001767. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Alcohol-serving venues in South Africa are sites for high-risk behaviours that may lead to HIV transmission. Prevention and treatment interventions are sorely needed in these settings, but HIV-related stigma may limit their effectiveness. This study explored expressions of stigma among alcohol-serving venue patrons in Cape Town and examined the potential impact of stigma on HIV disclosure, testing and treatment-seeking behaviours. A total of 92 in-depth interviews with male and female, black and coloured patrons were conducted. Transcripts were analysed via memo-writing and diagramming techniques. Many participants mentioned knowing other patrons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH), and this visibility of HIV impacted expressions of HIV-related stigma. Participants discussed four forms of HIV-related stigma in the venues: fearing PLWH, fearing HIV acquisition, blaming others for spreading HIV and isolating PLWH. HIV visibility and expressions of HIV-related stigma, particularly fear of isolation, influenced participants' willingness to disclose their status. HIV-related stigma in the venues also appeared to indirectly influence testing and treatment-seeking behaviour outside the venue. Results suggest that efforts to change norms and reduce expressions of HIV-related stigma in alcohol-serving venues are necessary to successfully deliver tailored HIV prevention interventions and increase uptake of HIV testing and care in this important social setting.

Keywords: HIV-related stigma; South Africa; alcohol; alcohol-serving venue; qualitative.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Environment
  • Social Stigma*
  • South Africa
  • Young Adult