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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perceptions and health care needs of HIV-Positive mothers in India.

  • Author(s): Nyamathi, A
  • Thomas, B
  • Greengold, B
  • Swaminathan, S
  • et al.

BACKGROUND: An estimated 2.5 million Indians live with HIV/AIDS. Spread primarily through heterosexual contact, the epidemic is shifting toward women, 29% of whom are currently infected, with still more cases going unreported. As the primary caregivers for their families, women face many challenges when it comes to accessing care; these include dealing with discrimination from family, community, and health care providers, and a general lack of education, social support, and nutrition guidance and sustenance. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of a group of HIV-positive mothers living in India to learn about the challenges they face in terms of assessing health care services, dealing with mental health stressors, and giving them a voice in designing the structure of a culturally sensitive and tailored intervention for women like themselves. METHODS: This study used a qualitative approach using focus groups consisting of a convenience sample of 60 HIV-infected mothers recruited from a large maternity hospital and sexually transmitted disease clinic in Chennai, India. Using a semi-structured interview guide, information was solicited from participants and qualitative content analysis conducted to determine common themes discussed among the groups. RESULTS: Participants described challenges they face on a day-to-day basis, living with HIV and factors that prevent or help them to seek, obtain, and maintain care. The women also provided recommendations for future intervention plans, to include counseling, nutritional support, psychological support, and educational services for women living with HIV. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of this study provided a rich backdrop upon which a community-based AIDS program for HIV-positive mothers in India can now be designed.

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