XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Oaxaca Mexican women with HIV/AIDS: resiliency in the face of poverty, stigma, and isolation

C. Holtz1, R. Sowell2, G. Velasquez3, V. Hernandez Alonso3

1Kennesaw State University, Nursing, Marietta, United States, 2Kennesaw State University, College of Health and Human Services, Kennesaw, United States, 3COESIDA, Health Department for the State of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

Issues: HIV infection among Mexican women continues to increase in remote rural areas. Women having little prevention knowledge and/or control become HIV infected. Often diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during a husband's illness or their pregnancy, they have very limited resources. They are stigmatized, demonized, and ostracized by their community members. This study's purpose was to explore the psychosocial issues faced by rural HIV positive Oaxacan women, to determine their illness management and needed mental health support services.
Description: This exploratory study used in-depth face-to-face interviews with 21 women receiving health services at the HIV/AIDS clinic, COESIDA, near Oaxaca City, Mexico. A Spanish speaking researcher conducted audiotaped interviews in a private COESIDA clinic room, using a semi-structured interview guide, allowing women to tell their stories. Socio-demographic characteristics were collected. Audio-taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and translated into English. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using content analysis identifying themes that were consistent across the interviews. Interview analysis was conducted independently by two researchers comparing results and resolving interpretation variances.
Lessons learned: Ages ranged from 20 to 48 years with most having a 3rd grade education. Most women lived at least 2 hours from the clinic and one lived 13 hours away. Average weekly family income was $36 USD. Themes emerging from interview transcript analysis included:
1) Social Isolation;
2) Fear;
3) Anger/rage;
4) Lack of Resources/Support; and
5) Resiliency.
Next steps: Poor rural Mexican women represent a vulnerable group dealing with HIV/AIDS, having few resources to cope with HIV/AIDS except treatment provided by COESIDA. Many women acknowledged gratefulness for a first-time opportunity to discuss their feelings and fears, indicating a great need for psychological support and mental health services to support their inherent resilience and manage their lives with HIV/AIDS.

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