Exploring the disability experiences of South Asian Women living with HIV in Southern Ontario, Canada Academic Article uri icon

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  • Purpose

    Given the steady rise in HIV incidence among South Asian women in Canada their health-related challenges and disability are not well understood. Our aim was to understand the "lived experiences" of disability among South Asian women living with HIV in Southern Ontario, Canada.


    We conducted a qualitative study using an interpretive phenomenological approach. We recruited immigrant South Asian women living with HIV in Ontario and conducted one-on-one semi structured interviews. Following the first interview, participants were invited to participate in a second interview. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim.


    Eight participants completed the first interview; six completed a second interview (14 interviews total). The mean age of participants was 47.1 years (standard deviation (sd) = 5.8) and mean length of time since HIV diagnosis was 15.1 years (sd = 6.7). We identified two overarching themes, "experiencing disability" and "experiencing discrimination". Apart from the physical and mental health impairments, the complex intersection of illness, gender, ethnicity, HIV-stigma and discrimination influenced disability experiences.


    Understanding the disability experiences of marginalized women living with HIV through a phenomenological lens can help to facilitate the development of culturally safe treatment approaches and health care policies to lessen disability and improve their quality of life.Implications for rehabilitationDeveloping culturally safe treatment approaches may help to improve rehabilitation service provision for ethnically and culturally diverse populations.Rehabilitation professionals need to adopt a trauma-informed care when treating people living with HIV.Rehabilitation professionals should consider cultural safety by considering the role of religion, dependency, and gendered-power relations while treating South Asian women living with HIV.

publication date

  • February 16, 2022