Understanding the Experience of HIV/AIDS for Women: Implications for Occupational Therapists
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BACKGROUND: Within the past few years, HIV/AIDS has shifted from being an acute, palliative disease to one that is more chronic and episodic in nature. This shift has major implications for the role of occupational therapy in women's lives. Very few studies, however, have examined the perspective of women living with HIV/AIDS from an occupational therapy perspective. PURPOSE: This qualitative study was designed to examine the experiences of five women living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Ontario and to begin to explore the implications of these findings for occupational therapy. METHOD: Through the implementation of five in-depth interviews, a phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experience of women with HIV/AIDS. RESULTS: Four main themes emerged: fearing disclosure, experiencing challenges (physical and psychological), having supportive networks, and coping positively with being HIV positive (spirituality and opportunity for living and learning). PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: There are several potential roles for occupational therapy in working with women who are living with HIV/AIDS More studies need to be pursued in this area of rehabilitation.
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