Experiences of PLHA and Close Family Members of a Communit-Based HIV Stigma Reduction and Wellness Enhancement Intervention

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 10:50 AM

Bea Pretorius, BSocSci (Hons), BSocSci
Health Centre, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a comprehensive community-based HIV stigma reduction intervention on PLHA and a close family member.


A case study method, as well as a qualitative interpretive descriptive approach was used to explore and describe PLHA and close family member’s experiences during and after a Comprehensive Community-based HIV Stigma Reduction and Wellness Enhancement Intervention. The study was conducted in both an urban and a rural setting. Purposive sampling was used for the PLHA and snow ball sampling for the close family members. The case record consisted of a demographic survey, a detail description of the intervention, naïve sketches of the participants, field notes and a detailed description and evaluation of the project. In-depth interviews were used to explore the experiences. The data was analysed using open coding and case study documentation.


The PLHA and close family members that attended the workshops gained a richer understanding of HIV stigma and how to cope with it. PLC became aware of how they are being stigmatized but were also saddened by their understanding of how they stigmatize PLHA. Meaningful contact was increased between PLHA and PLC.  The self-image of PLHA improved, they felt a new purpose and meaning in life and experienced a feeling of freedom. Both groups gained skills to develop and implement a community-based HIV stigma reduction project and were empowered to be leaders in HIV stigma reduction.  Differences were observed in urban and rural settings.


Bringing PLHA and close family members together during an intervention has improved their respect and understanding of one another with resulting improved relationships. The positions of the two groups were equalized and they gained a similar understanding of HIV stigma. Together they had a better change of silencing the voice of HIV stigma.