Previous surveys have explored factors that may affect HIV prevalence, incidence, and the implications of the epidemic in Rakai and in other African communities. Yet bystanders are often at loss in understanding the personal experiences in a selected community. In five case reports and in an interview with the founder of a local support group, we examine the self-perceived important issues, in the wake of the HIV-epidemic. Through the literature we seek to verify the findings and study the implications for control of the epidemic in a selected community.
Four out of five cases reported that they had experienced HIV related stigmatisation. A majority of the cases also reported withholding information about their HIV status from close family. Furthermore, four out of the five cases cited poverty and lack of food or nutrition as the most difficult part of living with HIV. The surveys reviewed in this report support our findings concerning HIV and stigma, and suggest that HIV related stigmatisation may delay HIV testing, disclosure of HIV status and adversely affect treatment compliance. The reviewed literature also showed that consistent condom use in this population is low and that poverty may have major consequences for the afflicted and their families. Furthermore, those with the highest risk of HIV infection are less likely to accept voluntary testing and counselling (VTC). Moreover, VTC has no effect on HIV incidence and sexual risk behaviour in this area. Our findings highlight the importance of interventions targeting HIV related stigmatisation and poverty in this area.