Exploration of traditional beliefs about human immunodeficiency virus and associated stigma among black Africans in the UK: a pilot study with implication for practice in Africa


  • Aaron Akpu Philip School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7263-4430
  • Samantha Davis School of Health and Community Studies, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom
  • Candidus Nwakasi Department of Health Policy and Management, Providence College, Cunningham Square, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  • Victor Oti Baba Department of Microbiology, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria




Traditional beliefs, Cultural beliefs, HIV-related stigma, HIV, Black Africans, Africa


Background: In the UK, black Africans account for the most affected ethnic population with HIV. Black Africans hold traditional beliefs which have been reported to cause certain misconceptions about the cause of HIV. Also, despite being in a developed country like the UK, it has been noted that Black Africans still hold these beliefs. This study was aimed at exploring the influence of traditional beliefs about the cause of HIV and HIV related stigma among Black Africans in the diaspora.

Methods: Semi structured interviews were conducted among six individuals (M-4, F-2), three of which were people living with HIV (PLHIV). Participants were selected purposively. The study included male and/or female English-speaking Black Africans who were 18 years+ and not born in the UK but had migrated to live there.

Results: The resulting data was analysed thematically, and three themes were developed: God created disease as a punishment for mankind…”: Punishment from God, “…witches, they can make HIV…: HIV as related to witchcraft and “hanging on to traditional beliefs thus mistreating people with HIV: Traditional African beliefs cause stigma.

Conclusions: The main finding of this study reveals that participants who are knowledgeable about HIV still hold traditional beliefs about HIV. These beliefs are reported to exacerbate stigma against PLHIV. The study recommends that traditional beliefs should be prioritised when planning HIV prevention programs.

Author Biographies

Aaron Akpu Philip, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Doctoral Researcher School of Public Health and Social Work

Samantha Davis, School of Health and Community Studies, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

Senior Lecturer

School of Health and Community Studies 

Candidus Nwakasi, Department of Health Policy and Management, Providence College, Cunningham Square, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Assistant Professor
Providence College

Victor Oti Baba, Department of Microbiology, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria



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How to Cite

Philip, A. A., Davis, S., Nwakasi, C., & Baba, V. O. (2021). Exploration of traditional beliefs about human immunodeficiency virus and associated stigma among black Africans in the UK: a pilot study with implication for practice in Africa. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 8(5), 2173–2179. https://doi.org/10.18203/2394-6040.ijcmph20211734



Original Research Articles