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n Gender and Behaviour - Epileptic patient may be pardoned... but for AIDS you should know" : HIV/AIDS, stigma, discrimination and biographical disruption
Objective : To determine the prevalence of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, and to identify the perceptions of community members towards HIV/AIDS and persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Ghana.
Methods : A cross-sectional survey of 45 PLWHA, 46 family members of the PLWHA, and 184 non-affected community members from three administrative districts in Ghana was conducted.
Results : Descriptive analysis revealed that only 17.8% of PLWHA indicated that their HIV status has strained relationship with family and community members. Almost half (46.7%) of the participants indicated that people in their communities perceive HIV/AIDS as a curse and slightly more than half (53.3%) see the disease as punishment from God. Over (86.7%) of PLWHA believed that community members feel threatened by the presence of the disease. Abandonment by family members/spouse/partners (66.6%), exclusion from social/family functions (51.1%) and spousal fighting or quarrelling (44.4%) were the dominant forms of stigmatization and discrimination experienced by PLWHA.
Conclusions : These findings are useful in guiding the design of interventions programmes in Ghana against HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. Such intervention activities should incorporate traditional authority figures and the creation of employment opportunities which could serve as a long term solution to the spread of the disease.
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