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This article is taken from the August 2001 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Discrimination

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.

 

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