Erathali, S. M. A., Callaghan, J. and Lazard, L. (2010) "Everyone is afraid of HIV/AIDS ...": accounts of healthcare professionals working with HIV/AIDS in Tamilnadu, India. Paper presented to: British Psychological Society Psychology of Women Section (POWS) Annual Conference 2010, Windsor, England, 14-16 July 2010.
Accounts of HIV/AIDS in India are constituted within discourses of significant social stigma and taboo. We were interested in the implication of this social construction for health care workers working with young people living with HIV/AIDS. To this end, one of the researchers, (Shamjid Mohamed Ali) interviewed 10 healthcare workers in Tamilnadu with healthcare workers working with young people with HIV/AIDS. These interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. From this analysis, the importance of cultural beliefs about morality, personal responsibility and HIV/AIDS became clear. HIV/AIDS is seen as a disease that is associated with moral degeneracy, and this compounds the stigma of the illness. This stigmatisation takes a particularly gendered form. Women who are associated with HIV/AIDS are seen as being ‘tainted’ by this association. In our interviews, respondents reported disproportionate anxieties about being infected by their clients (even while recognising that infection by casual contact was impossible), and women who worked with young people with HIV/AIDS reported significant concerns about the impact this work might have on their marriage prospects: that despite the reality that they themselves were not infected, they were somehow seen as diseased by association. We consider the complex intersections of representations of gender, work, status, morality and HIV/AIDS, and its implications for professional identities among health workers
Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
HIV/AIDS, social stigma, contamination, education, gender, healthcare workers, Tamilnadu, India