The researcher observed that stigma and discrimination among other things associated with
HIV and AIDS makes it difficult for single mothers living with HIV and those with AIDS to
disclose their status, as they often experience feelings of rejection, blame, and ambivalence
together with fear of death. These reasons often lead to single mothers choosing not to share
any information concerning their HIV positive status. In reaction to the above, the researcher
conducted a study to explore the challenges that single mothers experience with regard to the
disclosure of their HIV status. The objectives were to report how the single mothers experienced
disclosing their status with regard to their families, community and the workplace; that includes
their quality of life, and to establish the kind of support they would expect from their families, the
community and the workplace in order for them to be able to disclose their status with ease. In
addition, the eco-systematic approach, which is the theoretical framework of this study, brings
an understanding of the various ways a person may adapt to an ever-changing environment in
order to cope and survive as a family system. Thus, by following the eco-systematic approach,
in this study researcher explored single mother s experiences with all the systems in the
community to which they are connected and the way the systems create challenges for them
during the disclosure of their HIV status.
Investigation into existing literature has revealed that insufficient previous studies have been
conducted on the care of patients or preventative work regarding the impact of HIV and AIDS on
households, specifically in the South African context, and even fewer pertaining to the
challenges single mothers specifically experience with regard to the disclosure of their HIV
positive status. Therefore, two literature studies form the knowledge base of the study, where
the first one investigates single motherhood as a phenomenon. The causes of single mothers,
the challenges they face and their strengths were discussed. For the second literature study, the
effects of HIV and AIDS on human beings was investigated and attention was given to the
process of disclosure where multiple factors affecting disclosure was discussed. To determine
whether or not the goal of this study was reached, the qualitative explorative research design
was deemed appropriate for this study.
The sample comprised nine single mothers who are HIV positive and who voluntarily came to
the office of the Staff Wellness of University of Technology and disclosed their HIV status in
order to receive emotional support. In-depth interviews were conducted with the participants; the questions in the interview schedule were in line with the objectives of the study. Information
emanating from the data was analysed qualitatively using the process of thematic analysis.
The empirical findings of this study suggest that participants experience challenges regarding
disclosure in all identified sectors, namely in the family, in the community, and in the workplace.
The challenges manifest themselves as: judgmental attitudes, gossip, humiliation, and criticism.
The empirical findings further revealed that the behaviours displayed by the stakeholders in
question affect the quality of life of the single mothers to the extent that they become stressed
and depressed, among others. The results also inform us that the single mothers are prepared
to disclose their status, albeit under certain conditions. It was proven that on the basis of these
findings, strategies for facilitating disclosure and emotional concerns of single HIV mothers were
espoused; that includes creating a positive environment for facilitating disclosure.
This study contains an in-depth literature review, followed by the empirical findings that answer
the research question. The last objective of the study will be to draw a conclusion and make
recommendations regarding the establishment of the kind of support that single mothers would
expect from their families, the community and the workplace in order for them to be able to
disclose their HIV status with ease.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.