Influence of faith leaders on reduction of HIV-related stigma: a case of Kenerela +, Koibatek District, Kenya
Stigma and discrimination have often been identified as primary barriers to effective HIV prevention, as well as the provision of treatment, care and support. Such viewpoints tend to employ stigma and discrimination as a catch-all fo; the multiplicity of negative beliefs, attitudes and actions related to the disease. This study is anchored on Theory of Reasoned Action which is based on the assumption that human beings are quite rational and make systematic use of the information available to them, to make choices about whether to enact a behavior or not. The purpose of the study was to examine the influence of KENERELA + faith leaders on reduction of HIV-related stigma at Koibatek district, Kenya. The study was carried out amongst faith leaders who are members of KENERELA + at Koibatek district. In accomplishing this the study examined the influence of faith leaders' knowledge on reduction of HIV -related stigma; found out the influence of faith leaders' attitude on reduction of HIV-related stigma; established the influence of socio-demographic factors on reduction of HIV -related stigma; investigated the influence of religious factors on reduction of HIV -related stigma; and established the influence of structural factors and policies on reduction of HIV -related stigma. The study employed a descriptive survey research design. A sample size of 35 was selected using census sampling technique. Data was collected by use of questionnaires containing structured questions. Data collected was analysed for descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages), Pearson Correlations and Chi square tests. The results were then presented in the form of tables. The study findings were as follows: Faith leaders' knowledge had a significant influence on reduction of HIV -related stigma by the KENERELA + members of Koibatek District; The positive attitude of KENERELA + members as faith leaders had a positive influence on reduction of HIV -related stigma; Religious factors as perceived by KENERELA+ members had a positive influence on the reduction of HIV -related stigma; The socio-demographic factors such as gender, education and religion of the KENERELA + members did not have an influence on reduction of HIV -related stigma; and Structural factors and policies affecting the KENERELA+ members had a significant influence on reduction of HIV -related stigma in Koibatek District. Following these findings the study recommended the following: The Government of Kenya and concerned stakeholders should consider mobilizing resources to scale up awareness campaigns to members of the public to enhance the funding of Faith Based Organizations in promoting and scaling up sensitization activities to people on HIV prevention and management; Faith based Organizations should have policies in place to protect those living with HIV; and Faith leaders in KENERELA+ and other related organizations need to be encouraged to scale up their involvement in activities geared towards stigma reduction. These study findings could be useful to the Ministry of Kenya in guiding the formulation, review and implementation policies and frameworks related to reduction of HI V related stigma.