The Experience of HIV Positive Women Living in an African Village: Perceptions of Voluntary Counseling and Testing Programs

Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 2:25 PM

Janelle Gardner, RN, MSN, PhD
School of Nursing, CSU, Chico, Chico, CA

Learning Objective 1: Discuss factors contributing to women's vulnerability to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Learning Objective 2: Describe the experience of HIV positive women living in a rural village in Kenya.

Purpose: Kenya has approximately 1.4 million adults infected with HIV/AIDS, with a national prevalence rate of approximately 7.4%. The majority of the Kenyan people have not participated in a Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) program and do not know their HIV status. This increases the likelihood of infecting others and spreading the disease. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore HIV positive women’s experiences and perceptions about VCT programs.

Methods:  This qualitative phenomenological study explored the experience of HIV positive women in rural Kenya and their perceptions of VCT. All of the participants included in the study lived in a rural village in western Kenya and were HIV positive. A total of 29 women participated in the study. The investigator and translator walked to the participants’ homes in the poor rural village on dirt paths. A semi-structured interview guide with open ended questions followed by probe questions were used to elicit in-depth responses during the interviews.

Results: Six themes emerged while analyzing the data: Living in fear, making the decision to be tested, the journey towards acceptance, changing behavior, planning for the future, and encouraging others to be tested.

Conclusion: HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health issue in Kenya and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 36% of the Kenyan adults have participated in VCT and know their HIV status. VCT programs are crucial in attaining goals related to prevention and management of the disease. Issues concerning the acceptance and use of VCT provide valuable information for enhancing access and the quality of the program.