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Open Access ‘It makes the patient's spirit weaker': tuberculosis stigma and gender interaction in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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SETTING: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

OBJECTIVES: To describe tuberculosis (TB) related stigma and to understand how it interacts with gender to affect access to care.

DESIGN: Eight focus group discussions were held among 48 TB patients and their household members, and a thematic content analysis was carried out.

RESULTS: The main components of stigma were fear, self-isolation, ostracization, loss of status in the community, and discrimination by providers. Participants described the cultural context in which stigma operated as characterized by a general lack of health knowledge, cultural beliefs about TB, and engendered beliefs about disease in general. Both genders described some similar effects of stigma, including relationship difficulties and specifically challenges forming new relationships, but many effects of stigma were distinct by gender: women described challenges including assumptions about promiscuity and infidelity, as well as rejection by partners, while men described survival challenges. Stigma acted as a barrier to care through a cyclical pattern of stigma and fear, leading to health-seeking delays, with resulting continued transmission and poor health outcomes that further reinforced stigma.

CONCLUSION: TB-related stigma is prevalent in this setting and operates differently for men and women. Interventions designed to increase case detection must address stigma and its interaction with gender.
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Keywords: barriers to care; case detection; focus groups; qualitative research; thematic content analysisn

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA; Curry International Tuberculosis Center, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA 2: Computational Epidemiology Group, Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 3: Muhimbili Medical Research Centre, National Institute for Medical Research, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Publication date: November 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on lung health world-wide.

    To share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles from the IJTLD and publishing them on The Union website, prior to their publication in the Journal. Read fast-track articles.

    Certain IJTLD articles are also selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. These are available on the Union website.

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