HIV positive women's living experiences

Shahnaz Kohan, Nastaran Mohammadali Beigi, Nahid Fathizadeh, Mitra Malbousizadeh


BACKGROUND: Half of the 40 million people living with HIV are women and that the number of infected women is increasing. This study aims to describe the experiences of women living with HIV to get a deeper understanding of meanings and nature of life with HIV to develop general concepts about it.

METHODS: In this qualitative study phenomenological method was used and women living with HIV were interviewed about their living experiences. Sampling was purposive and data saturation occurred after 12 participants Data were collected by discussion and conversation, making notes, collecting participants' notes and recording in-depth interviews with them in Isfahan Province. Data were analyzed by Colaizzi's seven-stage method.

RESULTS: Most participants were married, had children and were infected by their husbands. From 115 extracted codes, 3 main themes and 9 sub-themes, illustrating the living experiences of these women, were found: vulnerabilities (individual characteristic, family and social factors), challenges with the diagnosis (from unawareness and denial to suspiciousness, referring for test, waiting for the results and finding the seropositivity), patient's interactions in day life (family, HIV, supportive systems).

CONCLUSION: The women provided several experiences including vulnerability to HIV, ignorance about risky situations and how to avoid them, others' reaction to the diagnosis of infection, chaos in family and social relationships, lack of health care services and supporting systems, especially for mothers who had family responsibility. These experiences illustrate various aspects of the problem and show the necessity of planning for counseling, supportive and health care services to HIV positive patients without judging them and their disease.

KEY WORDS: Life experience, women, HIV seropositivity, qualitative study.

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