XVIII International AIDS Conference


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The impact of HIV/AIDS on women''s sexuality and desirability

P. Hove

Voices of Positive Women, Peer Network, Toronto, Canada

Issues: A diagnosis of HIV /AIDS comes with strong psychological and psychosocial implications because of the stigma that goes with it. There is a lot of emotional burden for these individuals. An HIV diagnosis seems to impact one's libido and feeling of desirability. However, to what extent an HIV diagnosis impacts one's feeling of sexuality and desirability has not been fully explored. The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which HIV stigma impacts sexuality, relationship and disclosure
Description: A focus group discussion was used to capture threads of themes associated with the impact of HIV on feelings sexuality and desirability. Literature review was carried out on current studies in order to generate questions for this study.
Participants: 20 African women, 10 Caribbean women and 5 Caucasian women; all HIV positive and who frequent HIV support groups.
Procedure: Consent to interview women was obtained from the women during two different support group sessions in two different locations.
Challenges: Small size sample of HIV positive women was used in the study. No men were involved in the study. The opinions given are those of women who frequent support groups only, therefore not representative of all HIV positive women. No youth were involved in the study. Women's views were captured by taking notes
Lessons learned: The fact that many HIV positive women feel they are sexually undesirable, might be the reason why they do not disclose to sexual partners. This leads to continued spread of HIV.
Next steps: Service providers should help women to be assertive and have healthy sexuality sessions for these women. There is a need to have a series of worksops to hep women improve their self esteem and sex negitiating skills. There is need to have an open dialogue between men and women on this issue.

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