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Music as a vehicle for reducing HIV stigma and increasing access to testing in rural Uganda: A quasi-experimental, mixed-methods study

Sociology International Journal
Jessica Adams,1 Julius Niringiyimana,2 James Michael Van Leeuwen,1, 3  Andrew Ward,1  Rumbi Gumbie,1  Thomas Karrel1


Background: New HIV infections in Uganda rose by 21 percent in between the years of 2003 and 2013. Since 2014, the Global Livingston Institute has been working with community partners to produce the "iKnow" Concert Series in rural Uganda. This annual free concert series offers various musical acts featuring performers who come together to launch a three-pronged approach: (1) Use celebrities to stress that people can live a long, healthy life while HIV positive thereby decreasing stigma surrounding the disease; (2) distribute free condoms and teach people how to use them; and (3) offer free, on-site HIV testing, counseling, and treatment services. This study seeks to assess the familiarity and opinions of community members in Kabale regarding the "iKnow" Concert Series, as well as gain a deeper understanding of HIV-related knowledge and stigma in this region. We hypothesize that the concert is an effective intervention to increase knowledge and reduce stigma surrounding HIV in rural Uganda.

Methods:A quasi-experimental, mixed-methods design was used to conduct semi-structured interviews. These interviews included survey questionnaires assessing personal HIV knowledge and stigma, as well as open-ended questions to allow for additional discussion.

Results:A total of 202 interviews were conducted. The mean total HIV/AIDS Knowledge score was 9.4 out of 11 and the Mean total HIV-related stigma score was 32.4 out of 90. A multivariable linear regression analysis was run to predict HIV-related stigma and HIV/AIDS Knowledge from gender, age, employment status, religion and education. These variables statistically predicted a significant association with reduced stigma and level of education F (5, 196) = 4.54, p < 0.0005, R2 = 0.102 and higher levels of education being associated with reduced stigma F (5,196) = 2.66, p < 0.0005, R2 0.063. All 5 variables added to the prediction, p < .05.

Conclusion:Education level is significantly associated with reduced negative attitudes and beliefs towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The results suggest that those who report having completed High School and higher, score almost 6 points lower of the stigma scale, on average. This study informs our efforts to increase accessibility to testing and services for rural communities while also reducing stigma and educating participants at the concert on disease prevention and treatment.


sexual behavior, HIV-related stigma, Acholi communities, PLWHA, Uganda