Forms of Stigma and Discrimination in the Daily Lives of HIV-Positive Individuals in Mauritania

Boushab Mohamed Boushab1, *, Fatim-Zahra Fall-Malick2, Mohamed Limame Ould Cheikh Melaïnine3, Leonardo Kishi Basco4
1 Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Kiffa Regional Hospital, Assaba, Mauritania
2 National Institute of Hepatitis and Virology, School of Medicine, Nouakchott, Mauritania
3 Ambulatory Treatment Center, National Hospital Center of Nouakchott, Nouakchott, Mauritania
4 Research Unit of Emerging Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France

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Creative Commons License
© 2017 Boushab et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Internal Medicine and Infections, Kiffa Regional Hospital, Assaba, Mauritania;
Tel: +222 4674 9087; E-mail:



People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are often discriminated against in their daily lives. The objective of this descriptive and transversal study was to describe the experiences of PLWHA followed at a specialized outpatient center in Nouakchott to assess the forms of stigma from the perspective of those who suffer from discrimination.


All HIV-positive patients over the age of 18 years who were aware of their HIV status and provided consent to participate in the study were included from June 1 to 29, 2015. Data collection was conducted using a pre-tested questionnaire.


A total of 210 PLWHA were interviewed. Men accounted for 54% of the sample population with a sex ratio of 1.2. About half of respondents were married (51%) and resided in Nouakchott (55%). Subjects who had never attended school represented 42% of the cases. Among our respondents, 64% knew their HIV status for over a year and admitted that they refused to reveal this information to any person. The distribution of forms of stigma experienced by PLWHA by demographic category was, in descending order, stigma in interpersonal relationships (78%), self-stigma (20%), and stigma in health services (2%). There was a significant association between the form of stigma and marital status (p = 0.007) and between the form of stigma and knowledge of HIV status for a period greater than one year (p = 0.02).


The forms of stigma can be sources of discrimination and are a major obstacle to reintegration and support of PLWHA. This creates a vicious circle that, on the one hand, leads to the suffering, marginalization, and isolation of PLWHA, and on the other hand, has deleterious effects on their family and social relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Keywords: Stigma, Discrimination, AIDS, Mauritania, PLWHA, UNAIDS.