Home Institution

Virginia Commonwealth University

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


In South Africa, the world’s epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, HIV-related stigma and stigma-enforcing stereotypes continue to serve as major health barriers to receiving adequate HIV prevention and treatment. While there continues to be a rise in research and advocacy, there is a need to study HIV stigma through a multigenerational lens that addresses the changing HIV/AIDS stigma in the post-apartheid era. Using qualitative methodology, this study aims to explore the generational differences in perceived HIV stigma between females in their 20s and above 50 years of age (as denoted by “50s+”) living in Cato Manor, South Africa. The study did so through semi-structured interviews with two different-generation female persons living with HIV (PWLH), followed by interviews with 15 female participants in their 20s and 15 female participants in their 50s+ regarding their perception of changes in HIV stigma in the community (n = 32). Through thematic analysis, the data showed that participants, regardless of age, perceived decreased overall HIV-related stigma throughout their lifetime. When separated into different types of stigmas, data found that fear of non-sexual transmission and interpersonal distancing decreased greatly in both participants in their 50s+ and those in their 20s. Sexual and moral judgments also decreased among both groups but to a lesser extent than the fear of non-sexual transmission. Moral judgment persists as a central topic of gossip in conversations among participants in their 20s. A new judgment of negligence has emerged as a dominant manifestation of stigma within interviews with both age groups, which suggests that HIV stigma continues to evolve with time. Finally, the study discusses the potential benefits of a multigenerational approach to monitoring and addressing HIV/AIDS-related stigma.


African Studies | Epidemiology | Gender and Sexuality | Immunity | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Virus Diseases | Women's Studies


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