Stigma And Discrimination In Public Health

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Stigma refers to a negative or unfavourable perception that embodies the individual or community’s attitude or beliefs; or public policies towards self or a group of people with certain characteristics that fall short of society’s expectations. It is a reflection of fear and the unknown, driven by ignorance and helplessness. As a consequence of stigma or when stigma is acted upon, discrimination is said to occur, which is an unfair act or unjust treatment towards an individual or group based on identified characteristics [1] [2].

Stigma and discrimination is of public health concern as it can negatively or adversely affect the physical health, mental health and overall wellbeing of the individual and community as a whole [1]. HIV/AIDS remains
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These people, who become infected with HIV are further stigmatized and discriminated upon, therefore, perpetuating this cycle of negative perception and actions. This continues to create barriers throughout their lives with respect to family, work and health care. These barriers created are obviously seen and felt, especially when people living with HIV/AIDS are rejected by friends and families, denied access to health care or employment, or prohibited from travelling [1] [3] [4].

According to UNAIDS, more than 50% of people in more than one third of countries with available data, reported having unfavourable attitudes and beliefs towards people living with HIV/AIDS; with about one in every eight persons not having access to healthcare services [4] [5]. This was highlighted in a previous study which observed that, those reporting high levels of stigma were more likely to report having poor access to healthcare
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Furthermore, about one third of respondents in various studies by World Health Organization (WHO) also reported health worker’s violations of confidentiality [15].

However, HIV related stigmatization and discrimination cannot be comprehensively and effectively tackled without an understanding of the level of relevant knowledge and the underlying factors associated with discrimination. Thus, the study attempts to assess the level of knowledge about stigmatization and the sociodemographic and care factors associated with discrimination among HIV positive patients receiving care in a developing

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