The perceptions and experiences of people with physical disabilities about HIV/AIDS in the urban university environment in Johannesburg South Africa.

Ashani, Dolu Johnson
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It is important to capture perceptions and experiences of people with physical disabilities about HIV/AIDS, because it may help service providers to understand the effects of HIV/AIDS on individuals with physical disabilities, their households and communities. People with physical disabilities may be a strategic group to engage in HIV/AIDS prevention strategies, lobbing and advocacy. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 participants including students and staff with physical disabilities with the Disability Unit of the University of Witwatersrand. The results of the study show that people with physical disabilities have the perception that they are among the worst hit groups of people and who have received less focus for awareness, protection and prevention programmes. They believe that this adds to the already harrowing problems of discrimination and vulnerability that exacerbate the risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS. The stigmatization and discrimination have impacted negatively on their self confidence and personal pride, which in turn has an effect on their interpersonal relationships. They perceive services relating to HIV/AIDS as being not easily accessible to them, due to distance from lecture halls and students hostels, infrastructural barriers as well as lack of skills by service providers to specifically handle people with physical disabilities. Recommendations include improving capacity of service delivery by providing adaptable infrastructure, additional structured services for people with disabilities, awareness campaigns, in-house or additional training specifically on handling people with physical disabilities for Campus Health and Wellness Clinics, other services providers and staff members.