Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg

Second Advisor

Ike Okosun

Third Advisor

Michael Eriksen

Abstract

BACKGROUND: HIV-related stigmatizing attitudes are persistent concerns in developing countries and have been shown to fuel the spread of the epidemics. The purpose of this study is to provide a comparative analysis between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in regards to the population’s attitude towards People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the Demographic Health Surveys involving 15,715 Haitians and 55,170 Dominicans from 2005 to 2007 were used. A score of attitudes was established from six items such as the willingness to care for infected relatives, the willingness to buy vegetables from an HIV infected vendor, the perception that HIV patients should be ashamed of themselves, the agreement to blame and force them to keep their serostatus secret and finally the agreement to allow infected teachers to continue their jobs. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate analyses of selected socio-demographic variables were obtained by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

RESULTS: Logistic regression models showed that female Dominicans and male Haitians, respondents of higher socio-economic status and with more accurate HIV-related beliefs were significantly more tolerant towards PLWHA (p<.001). Furthermore, the Dominican Republic’s data analysis suggested that those aged between 30 and 44 years old, living in urban areas and married expressed more tolerance for the HIV- infected individuals. Overall, the attitudes and beliefs of the Haitians adjusted for socio-demographic variables did not differ markedly from the Dominicans.

CONCLUSION: The attitudes towards PLWHA seem to be associated with the nature of the HIV-related beliefs in some vulnerable groups. The findings of this study should guide the design of appropriate programs aimed at the education of targeted populations.

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