STIGMA AND DISEASES: ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF STIGMATIZATION ON TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS IN DISTRICT DIR LOWER, KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA
Social stigma has been described as a dynamic process of devaluation that significantly discredits an individual in the eyes of others. Historically, stigma has been applied to different diseases including leprosy, cancer, mental illness and particularly to HIV/AIDS. From the very beginning, HIV/AIDS related stigmas have fuelled the transmission of the disease and have increased the negative impact associated with the epidemic. This study was conducted in District Dir Lower, with the objectives to find out the existence of HIV/AIDS related social stigma, and its impact on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention efforts. The research was qualitative in nature, while the selection of sample was made through purposive sampling techniques. Primary data was collected from a sample of 12 respondents through in-depth interview using interview guide. The collected information was passed through different phases and was analyzed qualitatively under various themes. The study concluded that HIV/AIDS related social stigma exists in the community from personal to collective level. The persistence of negative attitudes towards HIV infected people creates a sense of fear, isolation and deprivation and they avoid seeking treatment. The study also suggests that community level interventions must be developed and applied to reduce stigma and fear about HIV/AIDS, and to promote HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.