Life stories from PLHIV Stigma Index participants from 3 African countries

3 Jul 2014

The testimonies or life stories were recorded as part of the Give Stigma the Index Finger project (2011-2014) and complement the Stigma Index reports carried out in each country. The project also supported journalists in each country to improve and increase coverage on HIV stigma.

Sharing the testimonies demonstrates the lived reality of HIV stigma in all its diversity and complexity and the on-going need to address HIV stigma as part of the response to HIV. Some of those interviewed feel positive about their lives and are open about their status, whilst there are others who describe their miserable futures, or don’t feel ready to disclose to those closest to them. Some people find support within their families, others refer to their family stigmatising them more than anyone else and feel additional betrayal as a result.

As well as detailed descriptions of stigma experienced, some narrators provide insights into the emotional impacts of stigma; one narrator states “the ugly words from their mouths made me feel worthless.” In total, 140 people living with HIV in Swaziland, Ethiopia and Mozambique were able to share their experiences, memories and views freely in an open-ended interview, recorded in their own language by a counsellor or activist, with the assurance of maintaining anonymity. To read these stories see this link