Oaxacan Women with HIV/AIDS: Resiliency in the Face of Poverty, Stigma, and Social Isolation

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Issues: HIV infection among Mexican women continues to increase. The purpose of the authors in this study was to explore the psychosocial issues of HIV-infected Mexican women's lives, and to support a request from the Mexican federal government for data to support the need for funding for the psychological care of these women. Methods: A Spanish-speaking researcher conducted private, in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 21 women receiving health services at the HIV/AIDS clinic, COESIDA, near Oaxaca City, Mexico. Data were collected during the time period of January 17 through 21st, 2011. The authors ascertained socio-demographic characteristics for all study participants. They transcribed audio-taped interviews verbatim, translated them into English, and analyzed transcribed interviews using content analysis, identifying consistent themes across the interviews. They also conducted language and cultural verification of the translation, and a third person, a master's prepared native Mexican woman, conducted content analysis. Results: Ages of participants ranged from 20 to 48 years, with most having a third grade education. Most women lived at least two hours from the clinic. Themes emerging from the interview transcript analysis included: (1) resiliency; (2) fear; (3) social isolation; (4) anger/rage; and (5) availability of resources and support. Conclusion: Despite facing a variety of adverse factors, the Oaxacan women with HIV/AIDS who were interviewed demonstrated a sense of resiliency and hope for the future. Yet, a critical need remains for mental health support services to be provided to women to assist them in managing the psychological consequences of their HIV/AIDS diagnosis.