230373 Why motherhood matters for women living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa: A view through the social justice lens

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yewande A. Sofolahan, PhD(c) , Department of Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Juliet Iwelunmor, PhD(c) , Department of Biobehavioral Health, Penn State University, University Park, PA
Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, PhD, MPH , Penn State University, University Park, PA
Background: The need to address the inequities of HIV/AIDS stigma remains a central focus of research aimed at addressing the burden of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. While most studies have focused on a myriad of factors that influence HIV/AIDS stigma, within the context of women living with HIV/AIDS (WLHA), little is known about how notions of motherhood fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS stigma. Therefore, it is important that employing a social justice approach to motherhood will allow for women to have children, regardless of their HIV positive status.

Methods: 107 women participated in 24 focus group interviews on factors related to HIV/AIDS stigma in South Africa. This study is part of a capacity building project on HIV/AIDS stigma in South Africa.

Results: Using the PEN-3 cultural model as framework, findings show that motherhood as a cultural identity marker creates a tension for HIV positive women. Motherhood expectation is both desired and worrisome for women without children, as participants expressed their desire for children and fear of being HIV positive. Findings reflect hope and determination with motherhood for some women, although some stated that they were concerned about their children's welfare following their death. HIV/AIDS present additional burden for women without children as they experienced pressures from family members.

Conclusion/Recommendation: Our findings suggest that an important advancement in theories on social justice is the development of interventions that mitigate HIV/AIDS stigma particularly among women. Emphasis should be given to addressing stigma via notions of motherhood and the reproductive challenges WLHA encounter.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the positive, negative and existential attributes of motherhood relative to HIV/AIDS Discuss the role culture plays in defining motherhood

Keywords: International Health, Women and HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was responsible for analyzing the data and writing the abstract
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.