Stigma Against HIV Hampering Treatment Efforts in Somalia

Infection is associated with promiscuity


Mogadishu, Somalia – In a small dark room in Mogadishu's Banaadir Hospital, a group of patients sits quietly on wooden chairs waiting to collect their monthly medication ration.

They're all HIV positive. The medicine they are given is anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.

The female patients wear a face veil while the men cover their mouths with scarves and mostly look down, dodging eye contact. They all avoid answering their phones when at the hospital, as they don't want someone in the room or nearby to recognise their voices.

In Somalia having AIDS or being HIV positive means doing everything in one's power to stay invisible. The identity of HIV/AIDS patients at Banaadir Hospital is kept secret. Nurses call the patients using identity numbers instead of names.