South African Indians and HIV/AIDS: contextual factors in the experiences of HIV/AIDS in Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal.
This study set out to examine contextual level drivers of HIV among the South African Indian community of Chatsworth. Very little is currently known about HIV/AIDS among South African Indians. It was from this starting point that I set out to research this largely unexplored study topic, to gain insight into and understanding of the non-biological factors that underlie the spread of HIV/AIDS among people in Chatsworth. In-depth interviews, informal discussions and participant observation were carried out among community members, including members who were HIV positive. Findings revealed that poverty, gender power relations and stigma were major social factors contributing to the growth of HIV/AIDS within the South African Indian community of Chatsworth. Poverty places many in vulnerable positions, having to choose between treatment and disability grants to buy food for example, and gender inequalities make women more susceptible to contracting HIV than men. Culture plays a role in placing women in high risk situations. Furthermore stigma, denial and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS makes it very difficult for HIV positive people to disclose their status and to live their lives in the community. The importance of understanding the context in which the HIV/AIDS pandemic is occurring and the various cultural factors that play a role in the experience of HIV/AIDS in people?s lives, is argued to be vital to the development of successful strategies to prevent and manage the disease.