Surviving Surveillance: How Pregnant Women and Mothers Living With HIV Respond to Medical and Social Surveillance

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Abstract

Pregnant women and mothers living with HIV are under surveillance of service providers, family members, and the community at large. Surveillance occurs throughout the medical management of their HIV during pregnancy, preventing HIV transmission to their baby, infant feeding practices, and as part of assessments related to their ability to mother. Enacted and anticipatory HIV-related stigma can exacerbate the negative impact that being under surveillance has on mothers living with HIV as they move through their pregnancy, birthing, and mothering experiences. In response, women living with HIV find ways to manage their experiences of surveillance through engaging in acts of distancing, planning, and resisting at different points in time, and sometimes enacting all three practices at once. Positioning the narratives of pregnant women and mothers living with HIV in relation to their experiences of surveillance illuminates the relationship between the surveillance of mothers living with HIV and HIV-related stigma.

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