Naming and labelling HIV and AIDS : responses to HIV in a rural setting in the Eastern Cape.
Jama, Ngcwalisa Amanda.
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In the next year, South Africa hopes to reduce HIV infections and stigma by 50%. With HIV stigma being a significant cause of the difficulties experienced with the management of HIV in the country, research resources have focussed on how to understand and reduce HIV. Although much attention has been given to HIV-prevention intitiatives, HIV stigma is still evident. Examining the issue of ‘talk’ around HIV and AIDS could help in gaining some insights into stigma as one of the ways HIV and AIDS stigma manifests is through language. This primary aim of this qualitative study was to explore the names and labels currently used in a rural area of the Eastern Cape to talk about HIV. Furthermore, the aim of this study was to examine whether these names are stigmatising or not. A total of 30 interviews and 11 focus groups discussions were purposively sampled from an already existing data set of 95 transcripts. Out of the 30 interviews, 16 were sampled from men and 14 from women and the participants were between the ages of 18 to 70 years. There were five focus groups with male participants and six with female participants. Focus groups had participants ranging in age between 10 to 70 years, with participants of the same age group assembled together in a group. The study used thematic analysis where six themes were identified. These were: misuse or conflation of the terms HIV and AIDS; metaphorical labels; ‘collecting death’; ‘that thing’; ‘clean blood’, as well as a discussion of attempts to describe the disease. The study then used social construction theory and a fear and blame stigma model to understand results in this study. This research shows that even though HIV/AIDS has been in our communities for over 30 years, stigma is still rife in Ematyholweni and this is reflected through the names people used to refer to the disease. This research also recognises that these names play different functions in communicating about HIV, but at the core, they are negative, stigmatising and as a result, they have led to negative responses to the disease in the research site.