XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Celebrating the feminine spirit: retreat as an intervention to enhance the quality of life for marginaled women living with HIV/AIDS

R.M. Bramble Weed1, D. Restrepo2

1Positive Life Program, Jackson Heights, United States, 2St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital Center, Infectious Disease, New York, United States

Issues: Undocumented inner-city immigrant women face the fear of deportation, poverty, and language barriers, limiting the access to not only medical resources but especially leisure-like social activities further deteriorating their quality of life. The WHOQOL supports that leisure activity represents a key element in quality of life.
In the United States 27% of HIV/AIDS new cases are women. In 2006, the HIV diagnosis rate for black females (56.2) was more than 19 times the rate for white females (2.9). The rate for Hispanic women was 15.1, more than 5 times that for white females. Queens, NY is an epicenter for immigrants and women of Latin American, Caribbean and African descent.*1
Description: An annual retreat is offered to 40 women living with HIV in the suburbs outside New York City. This supportive environment breaks the isolation and stigma associated with the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.
Yoga, expressive art and music activities as well as gender specific medical updates, medication side effects, disease progression, menopause and sexuality, clinical trials resources are provided in a relaxed, informal setting. This approach puts women at ease offering a safe place to address intimidating issues in a respectful, non judgmental environment. The health information is offered in English & Spanish by an HIV/AIDS and women's health provider.
Lessons learned: Pre and Post surveys distributed as part of the day's activities to evaluate emotional and physical health and perception of disease. Post activity surveys reflect positive attitude and overall sense of well being after just one day of leisure.
Next steps: QOL measures to assess the impact of Spiritual and Recreational retreats for marginalized women living with HIV/AIDS should be considered when allocating funds for social programs.
*1[ CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2006. Vol. 18. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2008.

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