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Keywords:

  • HIV/AIDS;
  • chronic illness;
  • motherhood;
  • qualitative metasynthesis;
  • women's health

Abstract

Metasummary and metasynthesis techniques were used to integrate findings pertaining to motherhood in 56 reports of qualitative studies conducted with HIV-positive women. Motherhood in the context of maternal HIV infection entailed work directed toward the illness itself and the social consequences of having HIV infection in the service of two primary goals: the protection of children from HIV infection and HIV-related stigma and the preservation of a positive maternal identity. Motherhood both intensified and mitigated the negative physical and social effects of HIV infection. HIV-positive mothers engaged in a distinctive kind of maternal practice—virtual motherhood—to resist forces that disrupted their relationships with and ability to care for their children, as well as their identities as mothers. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Res Nurs Health 26:470–482, 2003