Background: More than 40,000 people are suffering from human Immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in Nepal. Stigma and discrimination associated with the disease is making huge problem in identifying, diagnosing and treating the people living with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, it has many socio-economic consequences. There were no studies in Nepal which explored the issue in depth. Therefore, this study was conducted to get depth understanding of the issue.
Methods: The study was a cross-sectional and employed mixed method approach. It was based on primary data supplemented by literature reviews. The data were obtained through a survey approach (face-to-face) with 415 respondents and in-depth interviews with 30 participants. The study was conducted in six treatment centres in six different districts of Nepal. Quantitative data analyses were conducted by using descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation and percentage) and qualitative data were conducted by using thematic analysis approach to explore the depth knowledge of the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDs.
Results: It was found that 97% of respondents disclosed their HIV positive status to their family members, 59% of respondents disclosed their status to relatives and 54% of disclosed to friends. Over 30% of total respondents (n=132) experienced stigma and discrimination after HIV diagnosis and the majority was discriminated against by friends (59%), neighbours (53.8%) and relatives (51.5%). Major types of stigma and discrimination faced by the respondents found from both studies (quantitative and qualitative) were- rejection and isolation, verbal and physical abuse, abuse and removal from job, refusal and rude behaviour, and perceived and indirect discrimination. All this stigma and discrimination is related to HIV/AIDS had an economic impact on HIV-affected individuals and households.
Conclusion: Although governmental and non-governmental organisations (GOs and NGOs) working in the field of HIV/AIDS are using a lot of efforts to raise the awareness, many of the HIV-infected people are still facing stigma and discrimination. Therefore, the GOs and NGOs working in the field of HIV/AIDS need to increase coverage to raise awareness level among wider population and the discriminated people should be protected by implementing proper policies to enjoy their lives.