< Back to previous page


How the 'HIV/TB co-epidemic-HIV stigma-TB stigma' syndemic impacts on the use of occupational health services for TB in South African hospitals

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Subtitle:a structural equation modelling analysis of the baseline data from the HaTSaH Study (cluster RCT)
Introduction Tuberculosis (TB) has become an occupational health hazard in South African hospitals where healthcare workers (HCWs) are additionally confronted daily with HIV and its associated stigma, causing a syndemic. Early TB diagnosis and treatment are vital, but the uptake of these services through occupational healthcare units (OHUs) is low. The current study hypothesises that (1) the link between HIV and TB and (2) the perceived HIV stigmatisation by colleagues create (3) a double HIV-TB stigma which increases (4) internalised TB stigma and leads to (5) a lower willingness to use OHU services for TB screening and treatment. Design A cross-sectional study using the baseline data from the HIV and TB Stigma among Healthcare workers Study (HaTSaH Study). Setting Six hospitals in the Free State province of South Africa. Participants 820 HCWs of the six selected hospitals. Results The study results demonstrate that the co-epidemic (beta=0.399 (screening model) and beta=0.345 (treatment model)) combined (interaction effect: beta=0.133 (screening) and beta=0.132 (treatment)) with the persistent stigmatisation of HIV is altering the attitudes towards TB (beta=0.345 (screening) and beta=0.400 (treatment)), where the stigmatising views of HIV are transferred to TB-illustrating the syndemic impact. Our model demonstrated that this syndemic not only leads to higher levels of internal TB stigma (beta=0.421 (screening) and beta=0.426 (treatment)), but also to a lower willingness to use the OHU for TB screening (probit coefficient=-0.216) and treatment (probit coefficient=-0.160). Confidentiality consistently emerged as a contextual correlate of OHU use. Conclusions Theoretically, our results confirm HIV as a 'syndemic generator' which changes the social meaning of TB in the hospital context. Practically, the study demonstrated that the syndemic of TB and HIV in a highly endemic context with stigma impacts the intended use of occupational TB services.
Journal: BMJ open
ISSN: 2044-6055
Volume: 12
Pages: 1 - 10
Publication year:2022
Keywords:A1 Journal article