Coping with HIV/AIDS stigma by women who lost their partners to AIDS in the North West Province
Koen, Magdalena Petronella
Manyedi, Mofatiki Eva
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The aim of this article is to explore and describe how women who lost their partners to the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the North West Province, cope with the stigma of the disease. A phenomenological design was used. The sampling was purposive and the sampling size was determined by data saturation, with fifteen participants. The data was collected by means of a single open-ended phenomenological question. Data analysis was done by means of the technique of content analysis by Tesch. From the results the following conclusions could be drawn: Women whose partners died of AIDS cope by focusing on the problem which includes positive and negative strategies such as undergoing voluntary counseling and testing, disclosure of their HIV status, seeking social support, adopting a healthy lifestyle, non-disclosure, expression of grief and hurt and threatening lawsuits against perpetrators of the stigma. Regarding coping by focusing on emotions, strategies that arose from data analysis included coping by self acceptance, support by the family members, the emotional, social and the material support from families, friends, neighbors and social welfare; seeking of spiritual comfort, de-individualization of the disease, ignoring negative remarks and attitudes and forgiving, blaming their late partner or other people for their HIV status, and coping by using defense mechanisms. The recommendations were made in the form of strategies to assist these women to cope effectively with the stigma.