Effect of media use on HIV-related stigma in sub-Saharan Africa: A cross-sectional study

Effects of media use on HIV-related stigma.pdf

HIV-related stigma is both a barrier to effective AIDS prevention and, possibly, associated with socioeconomic factors. This study investigated whether exposure to mass media influences this association between social class and degree of HIV stigma.

The researchers analysed cross-sectional data from the 2006–2011 Demographic and Health Surveys of 11 sub-Saharan African countries. They found that HIV-related stigma tends to be higher among:

  • rural residents
  • individuals with low levels of education and HIV knowledge
  • those who do not know people living with HIV

Media use was generally associated with low levels of HIV stigma and reduced the gap between individuals with high and low educational levels. However, the effect of mass media was stronger among urbanites than among rural residents. This could widen the gap between the two groups in their degree of endorsement of HIV-related stigma.

What does this mean for practice?

  1. Mass media may have the potential to minimize the gap in HIV-related stigma between individuals with high and low educational levels, and so future prevention efforts in the region may benefit from utilising media.
  2. Due to low media penetration in rural sub-Saharan Africa, mass media could have the unintended effect of further widening the urban–rural gap, unless communication interventions are designed specifically for rural residents. 

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