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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Discriminatory Attitudes of a Rural Community Towards People with HIV/AIDS: Experiences From Goa

Author(s): F.S. Vaz, A.M.A. Ferreira, D.D. Motghare, M.S. Kulkarni

Vol. 30, No. 2 (2005-04 - 2005-06)


From the moment scientists identified HIV/AIDS, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fuelling anxiety and prejudice against groups most affected as well as those living with HIV/AIDS. This study assesses the attitudes of a rural community in Goa, regarding people infected with HIV/AIDS, in order to gauge the degree of discrimination at the community level. The study had a broad objective of providing baseline data to programme planners, to assist them in designing appropriate care and support programmes for HIV infected individuals.

Materials and Methods:

This cross-sectional study was conducted in a rural community in the state of Goa, India in the year 2002 wherein 600 individuals (300 males and 300 females) between the ages of 15-49 were selected by stratified random sampling. Stratification was done for age and gender. The age groups used for stratification were 15-24 yrs, 25-34 yrs, 35-49 yrs as recommended by the UNAIDS protocol. A questionnaire based on the 'UNAIDS Protocol For Measurement of HIV/STD Prevention Indicators'2 was developed for interviewing the study subjects ensuring confidentiality at their homes after informed consent and guarantee of anonymity to the individuals.

Observation and Discussion:

Out of the 600 individuals selected for the study 560 (93.3%) individuals were aware of HIV/AIDS. The rest were unaware and were excluded from the study. Out of the 560 respondents, 542 (96.8%) showed willingness to take care of a HIV infected family members, should there be one. While five hundred and one (89.5%) respondents agreed that HIV infected persons might be allowed to work with others, 87.8% (492/560) respondents stated that HIV infected individuals should receive atleast same amount of health care as others (Table 1). Interestingly 83.8% (469/560) respondents said that HIV infected individuals should not be entitled to keep their HIV status secret.

A qualitative study by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has reported mixed attitudes in their study in Mumbai and Bangalore in India3. Moniko SM et al (2001)4 in a qualitative study in Uganda reported that discrimination has lessened as large number of persons were infected with HIV in that country.

Table I - Attitudes of the Community Towards HIV/AIDS Infected Individuals

Situations Males
No (%) No (%) No (%)
1. Care of a family members with HIV/AIDS
Positive attitudes 278 (94.2%) 264 (99.6%) 542 (96.8%)
Negative attitudes 6 (2.0%) 0 (0%) 6 (1.1%)
No response 11 (3.8%) 1 (0.4%) 12 (2.1%)
Total 295 (100%) 265 (100%) 560 (100%)
2. Allowing HIV infected individuals to work with others
Positive attitudes 275 (93.2%) 226 (85.3%) 501 (89.5%)
Negative attitudes 3 (1.0%) 9 (3.4%) 12 (2.1%)
No response 17 (5.8%) 30 (11.3%) 47 (8.4%)
Total 295 (100%) 265 (100%) 560 (100%)
3. Provision of health care to HIV infected individuals
Positive attitudes 256 (86.8%) 236 (89.1%) 492 (87.8%)
Negative attitudes 6 (2.0%) 0 (0%) 6 (1.1%)
No response 33 (11.2%) 29 (10.9%) 62 (11.1%)
Total 295 (100%) 265 (100%) 560 (100%)
4. Revelation of HIV status
Positive attitudes 36 (12.2%) 28 (10.6%) 64 (11.4%)
Negative attitudes 246 (83.4%) 223 (84.2%) 469 (83.8%)
No response 13 (4.4%) 14 (5.2%) 27 (4.8%)
Total 295 (100%) 265 (100%) 560 (100%)


It appears that discriminatory attitudes are low as far as home care, equal opportunity at work and equality in health care are concerned. However, a large majority of respondents did not accept an HIV infected individual's right to keep his HIV status a secret. A possible reason could be the perception that revelation of the HIV status would help them to provide care to the infected individuals as well as to protect themselves from getting infected.

In terms of economy, health and education, the state of Goa ranks at number one position among all other Indian states. With its health and social parameters comparable to the developed world, the low level of social discrimination towards HIV/AIDS infected individuals in Goa is quite plausible and is a heartening news to programme managers planning care and support programmes for HIV infected in the state.


  1. UNAIDS. Evaluation of a National AIDS Programme: A methods package. UNAIDS, Geneva 2001.
  2. Bharat S. HIV/AIDS related discrimination, stigmatisation and denial in India. UNAIDS, Geneva 2001: 1-20.
  3. Moniko SM, Otolok T, Nuwagaba A. Determinants of AIDS related discrimination, stigmatisation and denial in Uganda. UNAIDS, Geneva 2001: 1-46.

Deptt. of Preventive and Social Medicine Goa Medical College
Bambolim Goa-403 202, India
e-mail: [email protected]

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