Social impact of HIV/AIDS on clients attending a teaching hospital in Southern Nigeria
SAHARA J-JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ASPECTS OF HIV-AIDS
Med Coll Publ Hlth FMCPH, Univ Uyo, W African Coll Phys FWACP
People living with human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (PLWHA) face numerous social challenges. The objectives of this study were to assess the level of self-disclosure of status by PLWHA, to describe the level and patterns of stigma and discrimination, if any, experienced by the PLWHA and to assess the effect of sero-positivity on the attitude of friends, family members, health workers, colleagues and community. This was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out among PLWHA attending the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Southern Nigeria. Information was obtained using an interviewer-administered semi-structured questionnaire, which was analysed using the Epi 6 software. A total of 331 respondents were interviewed. A majority, 256 (77.3%), of the respondents were within the age range of 25-44 years. A total of 121 (36.6%) PLWHA were single and 151 (46.6%) were married, while the rest were widowed, divorced or separated. A majority, 129 (85.4%), of the married respondents disclosed their status to their spouses and 65 (50.4%) were supportive. Apart from spouses, disclosure to mothers (39.9%) was highest. Most clients (57.7%) did not disclose their status to people outside their immediate families for fear of stigmatization. Up to 111 (80.4%) of the respondents working for others did not disclose their status to their employers. Among those whose status was known, discrimination was reported to be highest among friends (23.2%) and at the workplace (20.2%). Attitudes such as hostility (14.5%), withdrawal (11.7%) and neglect (6.8%) were reported from the private hospitals. Apart from disclosure to spouses, the level of disclosure to others was very low. Those whose status was known mainly received acceptance from their families but faced discriminatory attitudes such as hostility, neglect and withdrawal from friends, colleagues and hospital workers. There is a need for more enlightenment campaigns on HIV/AIDS by stakeholders to reduce stigma and discrimination and ensure adequate integration of PLWHA into the society.