Effects of HIV-related stigma among an early sample of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy in Botswana

William R. Wolfe, S. D. Weiser, D. R. Bangsberg, I. Thior, J. M. Makhema, D. B. Dickinson, K. F. Mompati, R. G. Marlink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Botswana, with its estimated HIV prevalence of 37%, instituted a policy of universal access toantiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2002. Initial enrolment lagged behind expectations, with a shortfall in voluntary testing that observers have attributed to HIV-related stigma - although there are no published data on stigma among HIV-positive individuals in Botswana. We interviewed 112 patients receiving ART in 2000, finding evidence of pervasive stigma in patterns of disclosure, social sequelae, and delays in HIV testing. Ninety-four percent of patients reported keeping their HIV status secret from their community, while 69% withheld this information even from their family. Twenty-seven percent of patients said that they feared loss of employment as a result of their HIV status. Forty percent of patients reported that they delayed getting tested for HIV; of these, 51% cited fear of a positive test result as the primary reason for delay in seeking treatment, which was often due to HIV-related stigma. These findings suggest that success of large-scale national ART programmes will require initiatives targeting stigma and its social, economic and political correlates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-933
Number of pages3
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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