The Social Ransom of AIDS: Levels and Correlates of HIV/AIDS-Related Stigma in the Philippines

by Judith Iris Kaye S. Pagsanjan, Master in Population Studies (April 2014)

In the last three decades since the human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) emerged as a major public health issue, stigma and discrimination have been among its worst social costs, and are obstacles to the prevention, identification, and care of seropositive cases (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS, 2006).

Stigma is the process of devaluation manifested through negative attitudes toward people living with, suspected of, or associated with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2000). This paper investigates evidence and correlates of HIV/AIDS-related stigma among Filipinos. This was conducted through quantitative analysis of data from the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey, a nationally representative sample survey.

Results of the study indicate an overwhelming prevalence of HIV/AIDS-related stigma among Filipinos. However, such stigma was manifested in varying degrees. Findings reveal that common correlates of HIV/AIDS-related stigma for Filipino men and women include rural residence, low educational attainment, low socio-economic status, and marital status.

Other variables such as age, religion, employment status, media consumption, and knowledge about HIV/AIDS generated divergent results for male and female respondents. Stigma among Filipino men was associated with employment, and moderate to high knowledge of the characteristics and modes of transmission of the illness. On the other hand, stigma among women was correlated with non-employment, low exposure to mass media, low knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and being non-Christian. These findings can be focal points in policy and program interventions to eliminate HIV/AIDS-related stigma in the Philippines.