From the Physical Self to the Social Body: Expression and Effect of HIV-Related Stigma in South Africa

Published on 25 October 2006

This paper discusses some of the forms and consequences of HIV-related stigma in a community living in KTC, an informal settlement in South Africa, drawing on ethnographic research findings.

The first section presents a dynamic form of stigma sign language that is used to label the HIV positive ‘other’ in this community. The second section highlights some of the pernicious consequences of HIV-related stigma, including fear of disclosure and downward social mobility, and the way in which these prompt some HIV-positive people to avoid local clinics and treatment altogether, and drive others to mask or hide the fact that they are receiving medical treatment, such as antiretroviral drugs.


Publication details

Mills, E.
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, issue 16


About this publication

South Africa

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