Infected Lives: Lived Experiences of Young African American HIV-Positive Women

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Abstract

This hermeneutic phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of young African American HIV-infected women. Eleven women between the ages of 21 and 35 participated. One pattern, Infected Lives, and three themes—Living Alone With HIV, Living With Unresolved Conflicts, and Living With Multiple Layers of Betrayal—emerged. The pattern and themes portray the very complex and challenging experiences faced by these young women living with HIV infection. They have experienced isolation, abandonment, betrayal, and discrimination in their interpersonal and social systems. They often dealt with conflicts of hope and anguish in the relationships with their children, and portraying strength, while feeling fragile. These complexities negatively influence the ability to fully engage in self-care activities. Implications for future research include further investigation about the experiences of psychological distress experienced post-diagnosis, development and evaluation of holistic nursing interventions, and evaluative research on mass media educational campaigns to reduce HIV-related stigma.

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