Rukhsana Khan, Arshia Bilal, and, Shakira Huma Siddiqui. 2017. Knowledge about HIV and Discriminatory Attitudes toward People Living with HIV in Pakistan. DHS Working Paper No. 134. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF.
Background: The current study explored the association between knowledge about HIV and discriminatory attitudes toward people living with HIV in Pakistan. The incidence of HIV among high-risk groups in Pakistan has reached 5% or higher, indicating a concentrated epidemic. However, little evidence is available about the attitudes of the general population toward people living with HIV. People living with HIV fear being stigmatized and anticipate discriminatory behavior from health care providers and the general community. Having incorrect knowledge about HIV leads to more discriminatory attitudes.
Methods: This study is based on secondary analysis of data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) conducted in 2012-13. Ever-married women and men age 15-49 who had heard about AIDS were included in the study. Variables measuring composite knowledge about HIV and discriminatory attitudes were developed and categorized into three groups for the purpose of statistical analysis: no knowledge, some knowledge, and more knowledge. A chi-square test and multinomial regression analysis were performed to see the association between HIV/AIDS knowledge and discriminatory attitudes by background characteristics of the study group.
Results: The study found a statistically significant inverse relationship between knowledge about HIV and discriminatory attitudes toward people living with HIV. That is, having more knowledge about HIV was associated with a lower likelihood of exhibiting a more discriminatory attitude. The likelihood of having a more discriminatory attitude toward people living with HIV decreased as the level of knowledge about HIV increased. Regression analysis showed that the effects of wealth, education, and region were also statistically significant. Respondents with secondary and higher education and those in the middle, rich, and highest wealth quintiles were less likely to hold a discriminatory attitude. Men, despite having more knowledge than women about HIV, held a more discriminatory attitude toward people living with HIV.
Conclusions: The results suggest that there is a need for Pakistani society to become better informed about HIV and AIDS to reduce the stigma associated with HIV, which will in turn reduce discriminatory attitudes toward people living with HIV. Positive attitudes towards HIV will encourage them to seek medical care for their disease, which will control further spread of this epidemic.