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AIDS, diagnosis, HIV, HIV testing and counseling, longitudinal, narrative, qualitative research, women



  1. Stevens, Patricia E. PhD, RN, FAAN
  2. Hildebrandt, Eugenie PhD, RN


In this longitudinal study, we investigated the diagnosis experiences of 55 human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)-infected women. Women's immediate reactions upon hearing that they were infected with HIV were devastation, shock, and indignation. Long-term responses included depression, submersion of the HIV infection diagnosis, escalated drug and alcohol use, shame, and suicidality. It was usually months and sometimes years before women could extricate themselves from these patterns of response. It is critical to make HIV infection diagnosis the first intervention in a protocol of seamless support that sees women through the initial trauma of being diagnosed until longer term primary care and social services can be activated.