Life Experience of Women with HIV
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Rates of female Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection continue to rise despite the existence of effective methods of prevention. What is the fundamental variable acting as a barrier to women’s self-protection? Researchers have suggested that the oppression of women increases their vulnerability to HIV infection, and that the relationship between oppression and HIV infection must be examined to effectively address this public health issue. The purpose of this research was to gain greater insight into the life experiences of women with HIV, in order to clarify whether or not women with HIV have, indeed, experienced oppression. Answering this question was necessary prior to the study of the relationships between oppression and subsequent female HIV infection. Women, age 18 years of age or older, who live in Canada, are proficient at speaking English and HIV positive were recruited to this phenomenological study and each participant was asked to tell their “life story”. The findings of this study provide support for the ongoing use of both the oppression framework and feminist perspective in future research. Future studies may include replication of this study in partnership with women with HIV and other academic/community organizations, as well as further analysis of the use of both the Theory of Gendered Power and Social Dominance Theory/Four Bases of Gendered Power in addressing female vulnerability to HIV.