1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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Nurse researchers conducted an analysis of 93 studies involving 1,780 women with HIV (71% of whom were identified as minorities; 56% were African American) to explore the stigmatization associated with being HIV positive. The analysis showed that women with HIV often experienced social rejection and discrimination. Many felt that simply being a woman, being able to bear children, and the possibility of infecting their offspring stigmatized them further. Regardless of how they acquired the disease, they were often assumed by others to be involved in drug use, promiscuity, or prostitution. Some women, though, said that HIV infection led them to improve their health, overcome drug addiction, and establish better relationships, especially with their children.


According to lead author Margarete Sandelowski, dealing with the stigma of HIV infection "required of women unending work and care." The most important thing nurses can do, she adds, is to "provide an environment in which women can feel free from further stigmatization and discuss problems related to it."


Sandelowski M, et al. J Nurs Scholarsh 2004;36(2):122-8.