Abstract This project is based on five weeks’ ethnographically inspired fieldwork in May 2006 in the Republic of Uganda. The study started out with the hypothesis that there was some kind of discrimination going on in the interaction between health workers at HIV/AIDS clinics, and person with disabilities (PWDs) coming for HIV/AIDS testing or treatment. However, problems with discriminatory attitudes towards PWDs could not be confirmed from my fieldwork observations at five different HIV/AIDS clinics in Uganda. That observation was confirmed in my interviews with PWDs and health workers. Health workers said that PWDs were entitled to the same care and treatment as everybody else. However, I observed that only few PWDs seem to attend those HIV/AIDS services, and the question arose why that is so. Problems with access and confidence (for example lack of sign language interpreters) are often reported as important issues regarding attendance at these services for PWDs. Those obstacles are there, but according to my fieldwork the physical barriers in the “healthcare system” do not seem to be as important as barriers outside the “healthcare system”. These barriers are constituted through a complex external-internal dialectic, and created at the boundaries that a society creates between “normals” and “outsiders”. This project explores what it means to be infected with HIV/AIDS and/or disabled in Uganda and how this affects a person’s identity. The lower social value of disabled persons prevents them from participating in processes of reciprocal exchange in areas such as education, employment, and marriage among other things. Especially normative expectations related to sexual behaviour seem to be determinants when disabled persons “choose” to cover up their serum-status, instead of seeking care and treatment. This project suggests that if one seriously wants PWDs to be included in HIV/AIDS efforts, the “healthcare system” has to create a link to PWDs, their families and the rest of the community by using outreach efforts, because the study shows that fear of stigma prevents PWDs from attending HIV/AIDS services by themselves, even if they know that they may be HIV positive.
European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2006, Vol 11, Issue 4, p. 380-7