Women living with HIV are living long and often healthy lives in Australia. However isolation, stigma and discrimination remain prominent concerns for these women. This study sought to identify the primary concerns and experiences women encounter across a life span of living with HIV.
This paper presents the findings from a qualitative study of women living with HIV in Australia. A combination of semi-structured interviews, workshops and online surveys were conducted with 32 women living with HIV in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. results: Participants spoke of the continuing impact of isolation, fear of rejection and importance of support from other women living with HIV. However participants demonstrated resilience, hope and confidence in the future and for the future of the women that will come after them. The five themes that emerged addressed the impact of initial diagnosis, continuing to deal with disclosure and discrimination, establishing intimate relationships, self-care and hope in the future. The study also identified the limited opportunities women can access to discuss how HIV has impacted upon their lives.
With HIV no longer regarded as a ‘death sentence’ but rather a ‘life sentence’ this paper will explore the impact of HIV on the lives of women after the initial years post-diagnosis. This study indicates while women are largely positive about the future, the impact of HIV related stigma still presents a real concern for women in almost every aspect of their lives.