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Attitudes towards people with HIV/AIDS: Stigma and its determinants amongst young adults in Cape Town, South Africa

Year: 2006
Author: Maughan-Brown, Brendan
Unit: ASRU
Journal: South African Review of Sociology
Volume: 37
Issue: 2
Pages: 165-188
Abstract:

HIV/AIDS-related stigma is conceptualised as multi-dimensional, and indices are designed to measure its different dimensions. Findings show that it is uncommon for young adults to have high levels of negative behavioural intentions towards people living with HIV/AIDS, but the majority show some tendencies to discriminate. Expressions of negative judgement (symbolic stigma) and fear of HIV infection (instrumental stigma) are both prevalent. Instrumental stigma is expressed by more respondents and to greater degrees than symbolic stigma. Resource-based stigma, on the other hand, is rare. Understanding of HIV transmission is the most significant (negative) predictor of HIV/AIDSrelated stigma, thereby highlighting the importance of HIV/AIDS education campaigns for reducing stigma. The importance of education in general is atso indicated by the association of higher levels of education with less instrumental stigma. Symbolic stigma and prejudices towards other groups are also significant (positive) factors predicting negative behavioural intentions and stigmatising attitudes. This suggests that although HIV/AIDS education is necessary for stigma alleviation, it is by no means sufficient. In the case of Cape Town, racial differences are also salient in predicting both the magnitude of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and its determinants. This corroborates the theory of stigma as a complex social process dependent on particular cultural and environmental contexts. It also highlights the necessity of considering cultural and environmental aspects in understanding and addressing stigma.

Key words: HIV/AIDS, stigma, determinants, dimensions, symbolic, instrumental.


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