Stigma has been a reality in the lives of people living with HIV (PLHIV) since the inception of the AIDS epidemic, and it can have profound implications for health, psychosocial well-being, and utilization of health services. In the industrialized world, the availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and a subsequent change in perception of AIDS as a chronic manageable disease has coincided with a decrease in stigma and discrimination directed toward PLHIV. However, little is known in developing countries about whether perceptions and experiences of stigma among PLHIV have changed following increased access to ART. The Horizons Program and the International Centre for Reproductive Health undertook an observational study in Mombasa, Kenya, to document changes in internalized and experienced stigma in a cohort of HIV-infected individuals over a 12-month period after initiating ART. As detailed in this brief, the study found that levels of internalized stigma decreased after 12 months on treatment. Participants also disclosed to a greater number of family members. Despite these positive changes, internalized stigma remains a problem for many respondents and warrants increased stigma-reduction activities in the community.
Kaai, Susan, Avina Sarna, Stanley Luchters, Scott Geibel, Paul Munyao, Kishorchandra N. Mandaliya, Khadija Shikely, Marleen Temmerman, and Naomi Rutenberg. 2007. "Changes in stigma among a cohort of people on antiretroviral therapy: Findings from Mombasa, Kenya," Horizons Research Summary. Nairobi: Population Council.