Understanding the Lived Experience of HIV Positive Women in Kenya: A Global Perspective


Poster Presentation


Kenya has approximately 1.4 million adults infected with HIV/AIDS, with a national prevalence rate of approximately 7.4%. The majority of the Kenyan people have not participated in a voluntary counseling and testing program and do not know their HIV status. This increases the likelihood of infecting others and spreading the disease. The purpose of this phenomenologic study was to explore HIV positive women's experiences and perceptions about voluntary counseling and testing programs.


The literature suggests that there is a lack of qualitative research in Africa related to voluntary counseling and testing. A qualitative phenomenologic study was conducted.


All of the participants included in the study lived in a rural village in western Kenya. The investigator and translator walked to the participants’ homes in the poor rural village on dirt paths. The interviews were conducted inside the women's homes.


A total of 29 women participated in the study. All of the women were HIV positive. The participants ranged from 22 to 63 years of age and were members of two tribes, the Luo and Luyhia.


A semistructured interview guide with open-ended questions followed by probe questions was used to elicit in-depth responses during the interviews. The length of the interviews varied between 45 and 60 minutes. All the interviews were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Moustakas’ framework for qualitative analysis was the primary model for analyzing data in this study.


Six themes emerged while analyzing the data: living in fear, making the decision to be tested, the journey toward acceptance, changing behavior, planning for the future, and encouraging others to be tested. The themes were common to all or almost all of the participants.

Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice

HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health issue in Kenya and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 36% of the Kenyan adults have participated in voluntary counseling and testing and know their HIV status. Voluntary counseling and testing programs are crucial in attaining goals related to health promotion, prevention, and management of the disease. Issues concerning the acceptance and use of voluntary counseling and testing provide valuable information for enhancing access and the quality of the program. This study expands our understanding of the lived experience of HIV positive women and their perceptions of voluntary counseling and testing programs.