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AIDS Care. 2010 Jul;22(7):836-42. doi: 10.1080/09540120903499212.

Stigma as experienced by women accessing prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV services in Karnataka, India.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


In Karnataka, India only one-third of HIV-infected pregnant women received antiretroviral prophylaxis at delivery in 2007 through the state government's prevention of parent-to-child HIV transmission (PPTCT) program. The current qualitative study explored the role of HIV-associated stigma as a barrier to access PPTCT services in the rural northern Karnataka district of Bagalkot using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with HIV-infected women who had participated in the PPTCT program, male and female family members, and HIV service providers. Participants discussed personal experiences, community perceptions of HIV, and decision-making related to accessing PPTCT services. They described stigma toward HIV-infected individuals from multiple sources: healthcare workers; community members; family; and self. Stigma-related behaviors were based on fears of HIV transmission through personal contact and moral judgment. Experience and/or fears of discrimination led pregnant women to avoid using PPTCT interventions. Government, cultural, and historical factors are described as the roots of much the stigma-related behavior in this setting. Based on these formative data, PPTCT program planners should consider further research and interventions aimed at diminishing institutional and interpersonal HIV-associated stigma experienced by pregnant women.

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