Influence of stigma on treatment failure on HIV patients undergoing treatment at Mbagathi District Hospital
Though much study has been conducted on HIV/AIDS and its scope, the area that seems to have been relegated to the back of most studies is about stigma and how it affects the overall outcome of the existing measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the infected, affected and the community at large. Despite all the efforts that have been put in place, there are still many cases of treatment failure. Treatment success is when the measures being employed help the infected live and leads a normal life even when testing HIV/AIDS positive while failure would imply where the condition of the patient deteriorates progressively inspite of being on treatment. Most studies are concentrated on these known factors, that is, non-adherence, drug toxicity and potency of the antiretroviral regimen but studies on the stigma and its contribution to treatment failure has been neglected. This is the gap that my study was aimed at exploring as a way of knowledge furtherance. The study sought to establish the level of treatment failure among HIV patients undergoing treatment, to identify the causes of stigma among HIV patients undergoing treatment, to determine how stigma contributes to the failure in treatment among HIV patients undergoing treatment and to find out strategies of stigma reduction among HIV patients undergoing treatment. This research problem was studied through the use of a descriptive survey research design. The target population of this study was 298 respondents comprising 23 staff members and 275 HIV patients undergoing treatment at Mbagathi District Hospital. The researcher used purposeful sampling to select 13 staff members dealing with HIV treatment and simple random sampling to select 155 HIV patients undergoing treatment using random number tables. Qualitative data was collected by use of interview guides while quantitative data was collected by use of semi-structured questionnaires. The quantitative data in this research was analyzed by descriptive statistics using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS V 21.0). The study concludes that people often avoid being associated with HIV, with devastating effects on prevention, care and treatment. Stigma can reduce the likelihood of people using condoms and accessing preventive services such as educational meetings and counselling. People who hold stigmatizing attitudes are also less likely to adopt preventive behaviours. The study also concludes that stigma often prevents disclosure of an HIV-positive status to partners, providers and family members, which in turn deter behaviours that can prevent further spread of HIV, such as condom use, or mitigate its impact, such as care seeking. The study further concludes that stigma deters use of health facilities and adversely affects quality of health services. The study recommends that there is need to understand the underlying factors producing stigma, integrate action on these into programs wherever possible including participatory reflection and action in and by the communities concerned. The study also recommends that there is need to involve people living with HIV and AIDS in program interventions at all levels- community, district and national level. Their involvement should also extend to policy development, research and evaluation. NACC should address stigma at levels where it arises or where it can be acted on in communities, including workplaces, Media, Recreational facilities, Schools, Churches and in Faith-based organizations. The government should promote complementary action on stigma at the level of individuals, families, social groups, organizations and at national level.