Stigma shapes all aspects of HIV prevention and treatment, yet there are limited data on how HIV-infected youth and their families are affected by stigma in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors conducted a qualitative study using focus group discussions among 39 HIV-infected adolescents receiving care at HIV clinics in western Kenya and 53 caregivers of HIV-infected children. Participants felt that while knowledge and access to treatment were increasing, many community members still held negative and inaccurate views about HIV, including associating it with immorality and believing in transmission by casual interactions. Stigma was closely related to a loss of social and economic support but also included internalized negative feelings about oneself. Participants identified treatment-related impacts of stigma, including nonadherence, nondisclosure of status to child or others, and increased mental health problems. Qualitative inquiry also provided insights into how to measure and reduce stigma among affected individuals and families.
HIV Stigma: Perspectives from Kenyan Child Caregivers and Adolescents Living with HIV.