Experiences of women aging with the human immunodeficiency virus: A qualitative study

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Abstract

Background.

While the literature on HIV and aging has grown significantly in the past decade, there has been little examination of the needs of older women living with HIV and their disability experiences.

Purpose.

The purpose of this study was to uncover the experiences of aging with HIV from the perspective of older women.

Method.

An interpretive qualitative study was undertaken using semistructured interviews to explore the experiences of 10 women who are HIV positive between the ages of 51 and 62 years. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically.

Findings.

Data analysis revealed seven themes: varying levels of acceptance, battling stigma of disclosure, declining functionality, living with negative emotions, practising healthy lifestyles, seeking social supports, and maximizing support from community services.

Implications.

There is a need for women’s peer support groups, education for women with HIV and their families, and enhanced support services. Suggestions are provided for how occupational therapists can enable participation.

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