Still I Rise: The Need for Self-Validation and Self-Care in the Midst of Adversities Faced by Black Women With HIV

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Objectives: Psychosocial factors of trauma and abuse, racial discrimination, HIV stigma, and gender-related stressors (e.g., prioritizing others’ needs) have been associated with antiretroviral treatment (ART) nonadherence and poor viral suppression among Black women living with HIV (BWLWH). To inform the development of an intervention addressing these psychosocial factors to improve ART adherence, the authors sought the insight of BWLWH. Method: Qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with 30 BWLWH to gather information on their experiences with trauma, racism, HIV stigma, gender-related stressors, ART adherence, and coping strategies, and their insights on the proposed intervention. Participants’ interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded using thematic content analysis and grounded theory. Results: Participants shared (a) their experiences with trauma/abuse, racism, HIV-stigma, gender-related stress, and medication adherence; (b) coping strategies they use (e.g., social support, awareness [acknowledging systemic racism], assertiveness, selective disclosure of HIV status, and prioritizing the self); (c) how each of these adversities relate to their medication adherence and how they found ways to self-validate and practice self-primacy and self-care, including medication adherence in spite of adversities; and (d) enthusiasm for the proposed intervention. Conclusions: Culturally adapted interventions are needed to improve the health of BWLWH by enhancing coping strategies for the multiple adversities they face and promoting self-validation, self-primacy, and self-care in spite of adversities.

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