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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

HIV positive women’s theories about pregnancy

Donna B. Barnes, PhD, Women's Studies, California State University Hayward, 128 HIGHLAND BLVD, Kensington, CA 94708, 510-527-8856, dbarnes@csuhayward.edu and Timothy Smith, BS, Sociology, California State University Hayward, 25800 San Carlos Blvd, Hayward, CA 94542.

The predominance of evidence indicates that women’s HIV serostatus does not significantly influence their reproductive decisions. In order to provide effective reproductive counseling, providers need to incorporate an understanding of the complexities of seropositive women’s wide-ranging reproductive experiences within varied social and cultural contexts. In this study we investigated how women with HIV/AIDS made reproductive choices and what influenced their actions.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with seropositive women (n=80), aged 18 to 49 years, from Oakland, California (n=30), Chicago, Illinois (n=20), and Rochester, New York (n=30). The women were predominately African American, with an annual income of less than $10,000. Data were collected between 1995 and 2000 audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed utilizing grounded theory qualitative methods.

Women with HIV constructed theories about pregnancy within a particular social context that inverted the notion that women should have children. Their theories were based on assumptions of mothering as self-identity and life-affirming, cultural beliefs, their beliefs about God, and past reproductive and missed mothering experiences. The women’s processes were similar but resulted in different outcomes. The only common characteristic was women’s life experiences outweighed and were more influential than received knowledge.

The implications for providers is to re-examine how information is received by women, and to consider women’s social contexts. Providers who embrace women’s theories about pregnancy, and can listen without prejudice, could be offering more authentic assistance to HIV positive women and their reproductive choices.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Decision-Making, Women and HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA