214958 Till death do us part: Life experiences of married HIV-Positive women

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lorece Edwards, DrPH , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Anita Hawkins, PHD , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
HIV and AIDS remains a substantial health threat for women of color, especially African American women. The statistics among African American women are alarming, and frightening. African American women accounted for 61% of the new HIV infections in 2006. Furthermore, according to the Office on Women's Health, every 35 minutes a women tests positive for HIV in the U.S. The social needs of HIV positive individuals were recognized early in the epidemic. Social support has been known to reduce the effects of stressful life events on health. And, the relationship between marriage, social support, and health has been strongly established. Twenty women ages 20 - 49 were recruited from an outpatient clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants were instructed to journal three times a week for a two-week period, and for a minimum of 10 minutes regarding HIV medication adherence, social support, and life experiences living with HIV. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted. The married women in the study experienced less social support than unmarried women, whereas unmarried women developed stronger support systems. The interviews and journals reflected that married study participants experienced the additional burden of caring for their HIV positive husbands and neglected their own health. The care giving role assumed by the married women in the study promoted additional strain and stress which appeared to have resulted in a negative impact on medication adherence and the development of social support. Couple-based support programs should be strongly considered for HIV-positive couples.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between marriage, social support, and HIV/AIDS medication adherence among married HIV-positive women.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been intimately involved in HIV and AIDS research for the past ten years. Additionally, I have been appointed to the Maryland HIV/AIDS Commission by the Baltimore City Council.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.