MPhil study projects

HIV/Aids stigma in faith-based organisations: A focus on the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pretoria

Student: Esther Tererai

Country: South Africa

HIV/Aids remains a pressing issue in the 21st century, with various interventions, including behavioural, biomedical and structural approaches. Despite global biomedical advances, stigma persists as a significant constraint. This study investigated the factors contributing to stigma in faith-based organisations, focusing on the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church in Pretoria.

Objectives included assessing the SDA church’s role in HIV/Aids advocacy, identifying factors influencing stigma prevalence, exploring stigma reduction strategies and proposing mechanisms to enhance church participation in combatting HIV/Aids.

Interviews were conducted with three categories of SDA church members, and data was gathered primarily through qualitative questionnaires. Findings revealed that while the SDA church implemented initiatives to address HIV/Aids stigma, these efforts were deemed insufficient. The church’s limited involvement necessitated intensified awareness campaigns and education efforts.

Stigma in the church was found to be nuanced, requiring efforts to increase awareness and deconstruct prejudice. Recommendations included enhancing education, addressing judgemental attitudes and providin social and spiritual support. Although the church has policies, institutions and programmes related to HIV/Aids, members often lacked awareness of the resources.