The Political Economy and Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS in Patients Attending a Clinic in Lagos, Nigeria
Obilade, Titilola T.
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Background: The aim of the study was to highlight the political economy of HIV/AIDS in people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) through use of relevant literature and administration of self-administered questionnaires. The study was carried out in the south-western region of Nigeria, using patients attending the HIV/AIDS clinic at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos Nigeria. Method: The questionnaires were distributed in the HIV/AIDS clinic and respondents were interviewed by the Principal Investigator and medical students. Results were collated and analysed using EPI INFO 6 statistical software. Chi Square analysis was used to test for association between categorical variables at a P value of 0.05. Results were presented in tables and charts. Further, the study determined the socio-demographic pattern of the patients, the changes in marital status, employment status and residential status since diagnosis. In addition, the study sought to determine areas of stigmatization as well as the fraction of monthly income spent on HIV/AIDS care. Results: Literature showed that employers were not willing to employ a person with HIV/AIDS and that vulnerable employment was the predominant form of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. This was re-affirmed by the study. Thirteen (13%) respondents lost their jobs after diagnosis and about 75 (75.0%) of respondents were in vulnerable employment. Sixty-four (64%) of the respondents were married before diagnosis and 53 (53.0%) still married after diagnosis, five of the respondents’ spouses had died, three had been divorced, and four had been separated from their spouses (P < 0.05). Sixty-one (61.0%) of the respondents got their financial support from their family. Stigmatization increased with the number of people that knew of their diagnosis (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Loss of job occurred in respondents when the employers knew of the diagnosis. The household income spent on HIV/AIDS care ranged from one-third to half of the monthly income. It was recommended that the government provide incentives for employers to hire PLWHA. Efforts should be made to reduce stigmatization through health education. Health education should target employers, religious organizations and family members. Self-sustaining financing schemes should be developed for PLWHA and their families.