Young SD, Hlavka Z, Modiba P, Gray G, Rooyen HV, Richter L, Szekeres G, Coates T. HIV-Related stigma, social norms, and HIV testing in Soweto and Vulindlela, South Africa: National Institutes of Mental Health Project Accept (HPTN 043). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2010, 55: 620-4. PMC3136617
OBJECTIVE: HIV testing is necessary to curb the increasing epidemic. However, HIV-related stigma and perceptions of low likelihood of societal HIV testing may reduce testing rates. This study aimed to explore this association in South Africa, where HIV rates are extraordinarily high. METHODS: Data were taken from the Soweto and Vulindlela, South African sites of Project Accept, a multinational HIV prevention trial. Self-reported HIV testing, stigma, and social norms items were used to study the relationship between HIV testing, stigma, and perceptions about societal testing rates. The stigma items were broken into 3 factors: negative attitudes, negative perceptions about people living with HIV, and perceptions of fair treatment for people living with HIV (equity). RESULTS: Results from a univariate logistic regression suggest that history of HIV testing was associated with decreased negative attitudes about people living with HIV/AIDS, increased perceptions that people living with HIV/AIDS experience discrimination, and increased perceptions that people with HIV should be treated equitably. Results from a multivariate logistic regression confirm these effects and suggest that these differences vary according to sex and age. Compared with people who had never tested for HIV, those who had previously tested were more likely to believe that the majority of people have tested for HIV. CONCLUSIONS: Data suggest that interventions designed to increase HIV testing in South Africa should address stigma and perceptions of societal testing.