Exploring the narratives of women with HIV/AIDS in a designated health setting.
This research study explored the experiences of HIV positive women with particular reference to their challenges, coping and survival strategies after an HIV positive diagnosis. A review of literature revealed that research on the lived experiences of South African women with HIV/AIDS is limited. The aim of this study was to explore the narratives of women with HIV/AIDS in a designated health-care setting in KZN. Social constructionism and ecosystems approaches were adopted as guiding frameworks for the study. Fifteen HIV positive women were sampled using, purposive and availability sampling. Qualitative data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The pertinent themes were identified and analyzed accordingly. Some HIV positive women experienced challenges in dealing with their HIV diagnosis which ranged from being stigmatized, rejected, or socially isolated, while some received support and acceptance from their environment. The life prolonging effect of ART has allowed HIV infected women to implement coping and survival strategies in order to reduce HIV/AIDS fatigue. Immersion in spirituality and 'reaching out' were some of the survival strategies adopted by HIV infected women in this study. Micro, Mezzo, and Macro recommendations were made with regard to provision of appropriate services for HIV positive women. The study may be of value to service providers as it may enlighten them on the various experiences (whether challenging, positive, or adaptive) of women with HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, HIV positive women may benefit from knowing that they are not alone in this fight against the dreaded disease.