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The role of churches in tackling HIV stigma in eastern Zimbabwe

Nhamo, Mercy (2011) The role of churches in tackling HIV stigma in eastern Zimbabwe. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Much has been written about the need to involve communities in efforts to reduce HIV stigma. However less is known about the psycho-social pathways between participation and stigma reduction or the most appropriate strategies for ensuring such participation. Drawing on Campbell’s social psychological conceptualisation of social capital and the ‘HIV competent community’, this study explores how community groups in eastern Zimbabwe, and in particular churches--the most established formal social network in the area--tackle HIV stigma, drawing on data collected between 2005 and 2009. The thesis explores four issues: the effect of participation in community groups on stigmatizing attitudes; the extent to which church groups perpetuate or reduce stigma; possible differences between the role played by the Protestant, Apostolic and Catholic churches in relation to stigma and the potential for using the ‘community conversations’ (CCs) approach to develop more effective responses to stigma amongst the three churches. The quantitative analysis from over 15,000 respondents used multivariable logistic regression modelling to explore relationships between participation and stigmatizing attitudes. Fewer of the individuals who participated in community groups than those who did not were found to report stigmatising attitudes towards people living with HIV (PLHIV). The qualitative research involved a total of 30 individual interviews and 24 CCs and explored how church groups respond to PLHIV. Participants discussed the strategies to combat HIV stigma and suggested that the church facilitated unhelpful attitudes, as well as helpful attitudes and actions. CCs workshops provided participants with opportunities to formulate a range of creative plans to tackle stigma in their communities. However over time it emerged that various obstacles stood in the way of putting these plans into action in their lives beyond the context of workshop discussions. l conclude that CCs have an important role to play in promoting reflection and action planning amongst participants. However, external constraints limit the extent to which people are able to turn this reflection and planning into action. To address these constraints I argue for the need to create sustainable bridges with external support agencies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Mercy Netsai Nhamo
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Campbell, Catherine

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