Experiences of women in obtaining human immunodeficiency virus testing and healthcare services

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Purpose:Over a decade ago, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended routine human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing for pregnant women. Despite this recommendation, nearly 30% of pregnant women report not being tested. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe personal experiences of women in obtaining HIV testing and healthcare services in east Texas.Data sources:A secondary data analysis was conducted using audiotapes and transcriptions from structured group interview data obtained from HIV-positive and high-risk negative women residing in east Texas (n = 64).Conclusions:Content analysis revealed three patterns: living with stigma; struggling to be healthy; and getting along, day by day. Additional findings indicated that women are more likely to access HIV testing if they are assured of confidentiality and women living with HIV are more likely to remain in the healthcare system if healthcare professionals are supportive, knowledgeable, and nonjudgmental.Implications for practice:Healthcare professionals must engage in self-reflection to conscientiously uncover their true feelings related to caring for women with or at risk for HIV disease. Once providers acknowledge that their beliefs and values differ from their clients, they will be able to minimize personal biases that interfere with HIV testing and healthcare services.

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