Pregnancy is period in a woman's life when she has many fears, uncertainties and expectations. To receive an HIV positive diagnosis during this period, has devastating effects on women. The burden of HIV and AIDS does not fall evenly or equally. The overwhelming majority of those currently living with HIV/AIDS are young women in developing countries.
The impact of HIV on women's lives, including their roles as mothers, economic providers and caregivers within households, emphasises the importance of psychosocial counselling and other interventions. Most women only find out about their HIV status while pregnant. Being diagnosed with HIV infection during pregnancy has become one of the greatest complications of pregnancy in South Africa.
WHO (2012:2) predicted that the prevalence of HIV infection among pregnant women is likely to remain high for at least the next two decades, because of the number of people receiving life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa. It is still increasing and was predicted to plateau at around 3 million in 2016. South Africa has implemented a Prevention of Mother-To-Child Treatment programme in which all women who are pregnant are tested for HIV at the ante-natal clinics. If they are diagnosed with HIV, they are immediately enrolled in the PMTCT programme.
Despite the remarkably successful implementation of the PMTCT programme in South Africa, women diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy face many challenges. This research found that the HIV diagnosis has a complex mix of emotional, psychosocial, relationship, economic and even legal issues that arise directly from the HIV diagnosis. HIV diagnosis provides concrete evidence that being HIV positive and pregnant at the same time is not a good experience; one is often filled with mixed emotions and uncertainties. The findings also indicate sadness and fear among HIV positive pregnant women, sadness in response to their HIV-positive status and the possibility of not seeing their babies grow up. The reality of an HIV diagnosis in pregnancy remains the same globally and continues to affect women who are diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy. A multidisciplinary approach is the most effective way to address the medical, psychological, social, and practical challenges. The biopsychosocial approach was also found applicable in underpinning this study.
The goal of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of pregnant women diagnosed with HIV while pregnant and how diagnosis influences their maternal needs. The guiding research question was: What are the experiences of women diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy?
A qualitative research approach was followed with a phenomenological research design. The population for this study was women who were diagnosed with HIV during their pregnancy in a state health centre, in Gauteng. Non probability purposive sampling was utilized to select a sample of 10 women who were diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy, who attended antenatal sessions in the health centre were selected. Their informed consent was obtained. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with participants. Interviews were voice recorded with the permission of the participants, and were transcribed by the researcher. Data gathered were analysed by the researcher and themes and sub-themes were identified. The research findings were presented by providing a biographic profile of the research participants, followed by a thematic analysis of the themes and sub-themes from the transcriptions. Literature control and verbatim quotes from the interviews were used to support the findings. The themes included the following: Theme One - Knowledge of HIV/AIDS; Theme Two - HIV diagnosis; Theme Three - Experiences of living with HIV Status; Theme Four HIV Treatment; Theme Five - Knowledge of mother to-child transmission; Theme Six - Relationship and disclosure and recommendations.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2017.