Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Continuing On: The Process of Women Living with Hiv/aids in a Rural Environment

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Continuing On: The Process of Women Living with Hiv/aids in a Rural Environment

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine cultural strategy preferences for HIV education ofThe purpose of this grounded theory study was to examine the process of women living with HIV/ AIDS in a rural environment. The sample consisted of 26 women (14 were HIV+ and 12 were diagnosed with AIDS). A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data during Ito 2 hour interviews. Seven participated in follow-up interviews at 9 to 12 month intervals. The basic social processes of Continuing On: Living With HlBI AIDS emerged with categories of dealing with HIV/ AIDS, being supported, managing symptoms, receiving health care, and altering life plans. Analysis further refined experience descriptions into stages of finding out, organizing for the journey, settling in, moving from episodic to sustained symptomatology, and getting sicker. The identified stages were non-linear conceptual categories, as some women reversed symptomatology from a critical end-stage to one of functioning more healthy in their responses to current therapies.

Key Words: HIV/AIDS, Rural Women, Process of Women

The number of person infected with the HIV virus continues to increase. States with large rural populations are not exempt from this health problem, and women are becoming increasingly involved. No longer is the "typical" AIDS patient a homosexual male. There is, however, a lasting impression that AIDS remains a male disease. However, the number of AIDS cases in women has risen from 8% in 1985 to 27% in 2004 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006a, 2006b). AIDS is now the sixth leading cause of death among all women and the fifth leading cause of death of women between the ages of 35 and 44. African American women are disproportionately affected with the rate of AIDS diagnoses 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Hispanic women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006c). The purpose of this study was to determine how women living in a rural environment describe their experience of being infected by and living with HIV disease.


Being infected with HIV affects women differently than men. Among HIV+ women, survival needs may take precedence over concern about HIV infection whose impact may not be

seen for several years. HIV also differs from other chronic terminal diseases as end-of-life family decision-making occurs at the time of disclosure within families and continues from diagnosis of this stigmatizing illness through bereavement (Stewart, 1994). In contrasting differences in psychological and behavioral responses of those dying of AIDS and those dying of other diseases, people with AIDS may suffer a double devastation: the diagnosis and the distress caused by infection from or to a loved one.

There are also issues relating more specifically to women, including: a) pregnancy, b) child bearing, and c) parenting of young children. Women in the AIDS epidemic have been considered mainly as vectors of transmission to men and children, not as individuals who are themselves HIV infected. The characterization of HIV as a sexually transmitted disease associated with promiscuity and injection drug use has "contributed to widespread discrimination with women being positioned as dirty, diseased, and undeserving" (Lawless, Kippax, & Crawford, 1996). There is considerable focus on the potentially infected child, but the mother's predicament and quality of her life are less often mentioned (Weiner, 1991). The mechanisms for support (emotionally, financially, physically, and /or spiritually) are important for any individual. Dynamics for women receiving various kinds of support become important issues for women with HlV /AIDS (Ciambrone, 2002). Obtaining a better understanding of the various kinds of needed and experienced /provided support for women living in a rural, low prevalence area seems crucial in providing optimal health care.

Women appear to have a shorter survival rate than do men (Hanícins & Hadley, 1992). …

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