Deputy director at School of public health and research, Somali national university
Title: Sick and solo: A qualitative study on lived experience of living with HIV/AIDS in Somalia
Abdul is the deputy director at School of public health and research, Somali national university. His research interest involve in the field of infectious diseases, maternal and child health as well as occupational and environmental health. He authored number of international peer-reviewed articles.
HIV-stigma and the resultant fear of being identified as HIV-positive can compromise the effectivenes of HIV programs by undermining early daignosis and anti-retroviral treatment initiation and adherence of people living with HIVAIDS (PLWHA). The aim of this study is to explore the situation of PLWHA to better inform researchers, program managers and policymakers in order to improve the national response to HIVAIDS, and to scale up testing and treatment of HIV in Somalia.
A qualitative study using unstructured interviews was conducted in Mogadishu from September to Decemeber of 2017. A convinience sampling approach was used to recruit 13 participants, including 10 persons who live with HIVAIDS and three senior officials who work for the HIV program at the Ministry of Health. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis.
Our findings show that people do not seek voluntary diagnosis and treatment of HIV. They come to know about their status when their partners are found HIV positive, they are tested for other clinical purposes, or when an individual’s health deteriorates, and all other means fail to work in improving hisher situation. The study reports a widespread stigma subjected to PLWHA by their family members, society, employers and health providers, which continue to undermine the scale-up of testing and treatment of PLWHA in Somalia. The study also pointed out a shortage of facilities that provide HIV diagnosis, counselling and treatment, which is another critical challenge in HIV control program in Somalia. Addressing stigma and discrimination subjected to PLWHA are critical to a successful HIV response in Somalia. However, to adress stigma, HIV programmes need evidence on effective interventions at individual, community and societal levels in order to strategically incorporate stigma and discrimination reduction into national HIVAIDS programs.