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New Index Highlights Levels of HIV Stigma in Uganda

October 31, 2013

This article was reported by Voice of America News.

Voice of America recently reported that the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) developed a "stigma index" that quantifies the types and degree of stigma experienced by HIV-infected Ugandans. NAFOPHANU's survey of 1,000 HIV-infected people across the country discovered that gossip, verbal insults, and threats were the most common forms of stigma. Spokesperson Margaret Happy stated that these forms of stigma created guilt and shame and sometimes discouraged people from getting HIV treatment.

Survey respondents listed other stigma outcomes, including forced sterilization (11 percent), loss of employment (21 percent), and exclusion from family activities (41 percent). HIV status resulted in physical assault for 20 percent of respondents.

Although Uganda's early HIV/AIDS response was highly effective, infection rates are rising once more, and stigma complicates the problem. Happy hoped that the stigma index would bring about policy changes and encourage the use of evidence-based interventions to reduce stigma. NAFOPHANU planned to conduct the survey regularly to monitor progress. Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa have implemented similar studies.

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