Coping with stigma by women whose partners died of aids
Manyedi, Mofatiki Eva
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The previous study on the experiences of widowhood and beliefs about the mourning process of the Batswana people found that widows were stigmatised due to cultural beliefs that made coping a difficult process for the widow. The literature revealed that widowhood following the death of a partner from AIDS is a difficult process due to HIV and AIDS being highly stigmatized. Stigma is an attribute that is deeply discrediting and devaluating to an individual social identity. It also reduces the person from her usual status to one with a tainted image due to the belief that having contracted HIV and AIDS is a choice and that an individual is responsible for her immoral behaviour. This negative attitude that amounts to prejudice contributes to the women's feelings of unworthiness. It was also found that the stigma against people living with HIV and AIDS is not only directed at them, but also to those having close relationships with them namely, their spouses, children, relatives, as well as health workers, which is known as secondary or associated stigma. The stigma was found to be attributed to discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation and race, hence women living with HIV and AIDS were found to be more stigmatised than men. Women whose partners died of AIDS were thus perceived by the community as having infected their partners, therefore, they were blamed, isolated and excluded from community activities. Coping with the loss of a partner was found to be a difficult process for the widow, aggravated by the death from AIDS. Some women coped by denying their late partner's status, while others kept it secret to avoid stigmatization. Some women, however, coped by challenging perpetrators of stigma about their attitude. This study was motivated by the challenge perceived by the researcher concerning women who lost their partners to AIDS who had to be assisted with coping with stigma associated with them having had a partner who was infected and died from AIDS. The objectives of this study were to explore and describe the experiences of coping with stigma by women whose partners died of AIDS, as well as to develop, implement and evaluate a programme to assist women whose partners died of aids to cope with the stigma associated with their partner having had a relationship with an infected partner who died of AIDS. The literature was studied in order to contextualize both stigma and coping. A qualitative phenomenological design was followed in phase one of the study as well as a case study in phase two. A purposive sample was used in phase one as well as in phase two. Data were collected by means of single open ended questions. In-depth interviews were recorded on audio tape and transcribed verbatim. Personal, observational as well as methodological field notes were written after each interview. Data analysis was conducted according to the content analysis technique of Tesch. The co-coder and the researcher analysed the data independently, after which a consensus meeting was held to finalise data. Ethical principles were applied according to Burns and Grove, as well as the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa and the Department of Health. Trustworthiness of the study was ensured through the model of Lincoln and Guba. The criteria of creditability, transferability, dependability, as well as confirmability were ensured. The findings of phase one of the study as well as the literature study of stigma intervention programmes assisted in the formulation of a programme. An eight sessions programme for coping with stigma for women whose partners died of AIDS was developed, implemented and evaluated. Phase two of the study consisted of a holistic multiple case design for presenting the developed programme. Data were collected by means of multiple sources of evidence. Data were analysed by means of a case record. Conclusions indicated that the programme for coping with stigma for women whose partners died of AIDS had a positive impact on the expansion of their coping skills.
- ETD@PUK