BMC medical ethics 2016 07 1617(1) 41 doi 10.1186/s12910-016-0123-3
While most studies on HIV/AIDS often identify stigmatization and patients’ unwillingness to access health care as critical problems in the control of the pandemic, very few studies have focused on the possible consequences of accessing health care by sero-positives. This paper examines the socio-psychological trauma patients experience in their desire to access health care in two health facilities in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
Through participant observation, informal conversation and in-depth interviews, data were collected from health workers and clients of the voluntary counselling (VCT) and antiretroviral therapy units in the two hospitals. The data gathered were analysed and categorized into themes and supported with illustrative quotes obtained from health workers and clients.
The study found that the mere presence of a person at the HIV counselling centre or clinic is enough for the person to be labelled as or suspected to be HIV patient. It demonstrates that stigmatization may occur not only in the community but also overtly or covertly, in the health facility itself. Consequently, for many HIV/AIDS patients, access to antiretroviral therapy and treatment of related nosocomial infections are problematic. Besides, the study found that many clients and potential users of services were uncomfortable with the quality of care given by some health workers, especially as they overtly and covertly breached confidentiality about their clients’ health status. This has compelled many patients and potential users of the services to adopt a modus vivendi that provides them access to some care services while protecting their identity.
The paper argues that by examining issues relating to privacy and confidentiality in the provision of care for and use of services by seropositives, more light will be shed on the whys of the limited uptake of HIV-related health care services in Ghana.