Researching the nature and extent of HIV/AIDS discrimination in South Africa for the Department of HealthS&T, in partnership with the AIDS LAW project of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University, won a tender from the Department of Health to assess the extent and nature of discrimination against people with HIV and/or AIDS. The project will be run by Ross Jennings and Jowie Mulaudzi.
Every day people living with HIV or AIDS face one problem after another
because of discrimination. People struggle to get access to proper medical
treatment, school for children, shelter, work and food. It is difficult
to buy a house because it is impossible to get insurance. The children
and families of those with HIV or AIDS face harsh words from friends or
colleagues. The current stigma attached to HIV/AIDS can compound existing
levels of discrimination on the basis of race, class, sex and so on.
The Department of Health has recognised that fear of discrimination is
a significant obstacle to persons coming forward for counselling, testing,
support and treatment. Against this backdrop, the Department is currently
involved in a series of programmes aimed at creating an environment that
protects and promotes the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. However,
the Department needs primary data about the nature and extent of discrimination.
The Department has commissioned S&T to undertake research to establish
baseline information on HIV/AIDS discrimination in South Africa. The research
study is also required to develop a draft strategy on ways in which the
dis-crimination can be countered.
A powerful team
To meet the objectives of the study, S&T has formed a partnership
with the AIDS LAW Project of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. This
brings together an organisation conversant in the issues and problems
surrounding HIV and AIDS and discrimination, with our strong track record
in rigorous socio-economic and development research.
Our methodology is based on a bottom-up approach. While we recognise
the institutional dimension of discrimination, our belief is that this
form of discrimination is being tackled through various legislative initiatives.
Our focus is more on the social and communal aspects of discrimination
found in every day life.
The first part of the research will be sifting through the wealth of
material that the AIDS Law Project has accumulated on the issue from years
of helping people with HIV/AIDS to deal with the numerous problems associated
with discrimination. These issues will be further explored and expanded
through a series of focus groups. A survey in two different areas of the
country will then be undertaken to ‘arbitrate’ the findings of the qualitative
phase. Finally, a draft strategy will be workshopped with key stakeholders
before being put to the Department.