The effect of aids related stigma on HIV testing in Uganda: A case study of Rakai District
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HIV/AIDS related stigma refers to the prejudice and discrimination directed at people living with HIV/AIDS and the groups and communities that they are associated with, resulting into being rejected, shunned, discriminated against or even physically hurt. Despite the advantages associated with HIV/AIDS testing, its coverage has remained below mainly due to fear and denial. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of HIV/AIDS related stigma on HIV testing in Rakai District, Uganda. The study employed a cross-sectional design using both interview administered questionnaire and focus group discussions. Quantitative data was analyzed at three levels while data from focus groups discussion and analyzed thematically. The significant predictors of HIV testing included marital status; never married and married respondents were more likely to test for HIV (OR=2.9, p=0.041), HIV knowledge and awareness; awareness did not translate to testing (OR=0.860, p=0.036), number of sexual partners; respondents with one sexual partner were less likely to test for HIV, (OR=0.481, p=0.045) and what people think others would perceived of them assuming they were infected; individuals who believed that others would not want to associate with them assuming they were HIV infected were less likely to test for HIV (OR=0.427, p=0.004). Responses to six items used to assess stigma did not differ significantly between those who tested and those who did not. HIV stigma may not have a substantial impact on HIV testing and this may be explained by the number of interventions in place since the onset of HIV. There is need for more sensitization to ensure that those who know where testing services are offered, those in monogamous relationships and those who are divorced or separated go for HIV testing in order for them to know their status and take advantage of the various interventions available.