A critical component of an AIDS-free generation is to reduce HIV-related stigma. Previous research predicted that stigma would decline over time with increased contact with PLWH, understanding of the disease and availability of treatment. The aim of the research was to explore change in stigma over a 12-year period, by comparing data collected from two large cross-sectional samples from South African communities in 2004 (before the roll-out of antiretroviral treatment (ART)) and in 2016. Students recruited respondents according to criteria related to age, gender, race and area of living. A survey assessing moral judgement and interpersonal distance was used to assess personal and perceived community stigma. Responses to ten identical items used in the 2004 and 2016 data collection were compared. Personal stigma attached to HIV decreased significantly over time, except in respect of having close contact with PLWH, such as dating and befriending. Perceived community stigma remained high in all subgroups. It is argued that perceived community stigma contributes to high levels of internalised stigma among PLWH. Interventions should focus on helping PLWH to cope with perceived stigma and strategies to address stereotyping, which contributes to perceived community stigma.