Meeting the Needs of Women Living with HIV

Authors

  • Kelly A. Metcalfe R.N., B.S.N.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Kelly A. Metcalfe were senior students and Sheila J. Evans was their faculty advisor at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada when this study was conducted.
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  • Julie E. Langstaff R.N., B.S.N.,

    1. Julie E. Langstaff were senior students and Sheila J. Evans was their faculty advisor at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada when this study was conducted.
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  • Sheila J. Evans R.N., Ph.D.(c), M.S.N.,

    1. Sheila J. Evans was their faculty advisor at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada when this study was conducted.
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  • Heather M. Paterson R.N., B.S.N.,

    1. Heather M. Paterson were senior students and Sheila J. Evans was their faculty advisor at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada when this study was conducted.
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  • Julie L. Reid R.N., B.S.N.

    1. Julie L. Reid were senior students and Sheila J. Evans was their faculty advisor at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada when this study was conducted.
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Address correspondence to Kelly A. Metcalfe, R.N., B.S.N., The Centre for Research in Women's Health, 790 Bay Street, Suite 750, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1N8.

Abstract

Abstract HIV research, treatment, and support programs in North America have been based on the premise that HIV is a gay man's disease. HIV also affects women. The purposes of this study were to: (1) examine the feelings, concerns, and needs of HIV infected women in a mid-sized Canadian city; and (2) determine whether a community agency for HIV positive persons was adequately supporting women. With informed consent, HIV positive women attending the community agency or a regional medical care facility were interviewed using qualitative research methods to elicit their lived experience. Eight women were interviewed (20% of the women who are HIV positive in this center). Four areas of concern were identified: (1) the impact of diagnosis on women and their children; (2) need for supports specific to HIV positive women; (3) differences in needs and supports available to men and women; and (4) lack of comfort with, or knowledge about, currently available facilities. These results are consistent with previously reported research. HIV positive women who are neither drug-users nor promiscuous feel stigmatized and less supported than HIV positive males. Recommendations for practice included: formulation of self-help groups for women, a more female friendly atmosphere, presence of female staff and other HIV positive women to support these women, and improved inter-agency cooperation. Many recommendations have been implemented and exceeded. The community agency now includes a child's play area, the hiring of a female social worker, and the establishment of an off-site support group for HIV positive women.

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