Mapping positive bodies of women living with HIV in Bolivia
G.V. Ross Quiroga, Women Living with HIV in Bolivia
Bolivian Network of PLHA, Executive Council, La Paz, Bolivia
Background: HIV impacted the lives of women in Bolivia. Most of them have little literacy and different cultural backgrounds. Others are still impacted by HIV and can't speak out their feelings, especially those in relation to their gender identities as mothers. Bolivia has a macho culture and motherhood is the main marker of a woman's identity.
Methods: In 2008, 60 women with HIV used the methodology of Body Mapping. Each woman was given big size papers, painting material and the instruction to: “draw HIV inside your bodies and what it has done to you as women”. Women draw HIV and its impact individually.
Results: HIV has a new meaning for women; no longer a death sentence despite its huge impact and pain, is now a booster for life which has a meaning if motherhood is acknowledged. Women need livelihoods initiatives to secure the well being, education and future of their children, this is more important than HIV. They survived domestic, psychological and sexual violence. They understand the importance of ARV adherence. With strong marks in the borders of the bodies women established a frontier with a hostile environment that discriminate against them, stigmatize them as promiscuous and deny their reproductive and sexual rights. Some women were suggested abortion after tested positive for HIV. Some were sterilized without their consent, some lost their children because no one informed about suspension of breastfeeding. Some women didn't disclose to their families and children. HIV was drawn as an invader, an unwanted host but not a killer. HIV didn't reach their hearths.
Conclusions: The use of the Body Mapping methodology permitted good participation of women who often don't speak out and can't write and read. Strong programs to address the sexual and reproductive rights of women with HIV are needed. Women also need support for income generation activities.
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