The obstacle of HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination in HIV prevention, care and treatment in Sweden; a study of People Living with HIV/AIDS and service providers.
HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination are probably as old as the disease itself. Despite the fact that Sweden is one of the countries providing top quality medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS, the epidemic of HIV related stigma and discrimination looms large at different levels in the Swedish society. This paper sets out to discover how stigma and discrimination are obstacles to HIV prevention, care and treatment. The paper also seeks to find out the level of disclosure among people living with HIV/AIDS, their social networks and also offers ways of combating stigma and discrimination in Sweden. The study employed a qualitative, individual interview method. A total of twenty respondents were interviewed, some are people living with HIV/AIDS and the others, service providers with different professional backgrounds in the HIV field. Data analysis integrates previous research and chosen theoretical framework to provide a better understanding of the issue at hand. The main findings of this study include among others: that HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination exists in Sweden and it is a big obstacle to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment. Forms of stigma include self stigma, which is the most common form of stigma in Sweden plus stigma from society. Discrimination is seen in the healthcare system, the media, migrations board and the justice system. The Swedish Communicable Diseases Act also seems to be enhancing stigma and discrimination. The negative treatment in society and various institutions, plus the harassment of People Living with HIV/AIDS by the media prevents people from testing for HIV/AIDS and also from seeking care and treatment. As a way of combating this epidemic, respondents suggested that dissemination of HIV/AIDS information, knowledge and education at all levels in society is the key to abetting the epidemic. There is need to strengthen people living with HIV/AIDS, deal with clinics, hospitals and also make HIV prevention a responsibility for everyone.