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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Stigma and Discrimination: Field Experiences and Research from Africa, Asia & Ukraine

Women & Stigma

“A woman will never decide to do the testing. If she finds herself HIV-positive she is signing three deaths: psychological death, social death & physical death. Don’t you think that is a lot?”
-Woman, Burkina Faso-

The rights & choices of HIV-positive women are repeatedly ignored or denied

Policy frameworks to support their rights are often weak; and the needs of HIV-positive women are almost always secondary to the rest of the community

Stigma was reported everywhere to be more directed at women

Stigma surrounding MTCT prevents women from accepting testing and negatively impacts their quality of family life

In many cases, once a woman is diagnosed as HIV-positive, she faces rebuke or condemnation for wanting a child, and often is denied the right to make her own reproductive choices

The “M” in PMTCT can foster incorrect perceptions that a women is solely at fault in transmitting HIV to her baby

In some cases this enables the partner & family to refuse responsibility in providing care & support to mother & child


Many communities assume HIV-positive women must be promiscuous, making it impossible for many women to remain in their communities where they may have better access to home-based care & support, pushing them into urban poverty & often into sex work In some communities, women who do not breastfeed their child are now assumed to be HIV-positive

For more information, contact:
Waithira Gikonyo
Programme Communication Officer
Shari Cohen
PMTCT Communication Consultant