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Quantifying Stigma in the Adult Population of Cape Town

Year: 2006
Working paper number: 165
Author: Maughan-Brown, Brendan
Unit: ASRU

This paper builds on previous analyses of HIV/AIDS-related stigma among young adults (aged 15-23) in the Cape Metropolitan Area by using a representative sample of adults from the same area. It compares the findings from both surveys, and assesses whether the differences between the findings amongst young adults and previous national studies were due to the different age profiles of the samples. Findings show that age is not an important determinant of stigma, indicating similar levels of stigma for all ages, and AIDS education should target all age groups, not just young adults. As was the case with earlier research conducted with young adults only, the prevalence and magnitude of HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Cape Town was found to be significantly greater than stigma levels measured in previous national surveys.  Most surveys measure stigma by focussing on behavioural intentions towards people living with HIV/AIDS, often concentrating on behavioural intentions towards family or friends.  This paper measures behavioural intentions as well as three attitudinal components of HIV/AIDS-related stigma: instrumental (i.e. indicating fear of infection), symbolic (holding negative attitudes based on values) and resource-based (holding negative attitudes based on resources). Behavioural intentions are deconstructed into (1) intentions towards family/friends and (2) intentions towards strangers.  Results show that behavioural intentions are less negative to family/friends with HIV than to strangers with HIV, and that if stigma is measured as symbolic stigma or instrumental stigma, then a higher degree of stigma is evident.  Levels of resource-based stigma are very low. Instrumental stigma is a significant predictor of negative behavioural intentions towards people living with HIV/AIDS.  This highlights the importance of HIV education.  General bigotry and symbolic stigma also influence different dimensions of stigma.  This suggests that although education is a necessary component for stigma alleviation, it is by no means sufficient.  Racial differences are salient in predicting the determinants of the different dimensions of stigma.  This highlights the necessity of considering cultural and environmental aspects in understanding stigma. 

Publication file: wp165.pdf