Issues Faced by Women with AIDS
IntroductionThe objective of this survey was to examine the most important issues faced by women living with an HIV and/or AIDS diagnosis. Differences and similarities amongst women of different age groups, ethnicities, and regions of the U.S. were also explored.
MethodsThe survey was conducted at the 1999 National Conference on Women and HIV/AIDS held in Los Angeles from October 9-12, 1999. This conference marked the largest gathering of HIV-positive women, ever. (900 to 1,000 HIV positive women.) These women came from almost every state in the U.S. and were recruited through HIV/AIDS organizations, advertising in magazines for people living with HIV/AIDS, and word-of-mouth. The survey was administered to the HIV-positive women attending the pre-conference events. A total of 540 out of the 700 pre-conference participants completed the questionnaire (77% response rate).
To allow for a broad range in responses, the self-administered questionnaire consisted of two open-ended questions: "What is the most important issue you face as a person living with HIV/AIDS?" and "What is the most important issue you face as a woman living with HIV/AIDS?" Information on age, race and state of residence were also collected.
A review of the literature on quality of life among persons living with HIV/AIDS was conducted to best determine the categories with which to organize the responses in this survey to facilitate data analysis. In general, the studies reviewed utilized the MOS-HIV, MQOL-HIV, and McGill QOL, and examined quality of life within the following domains: physical health/functioning, mental/emotional health, social functioning and spiritual well-being. (Cohen et al., 1996; Carretero et al., 1996; Badia et al., 1999.)
Based on the quality of life categories identified in the literature and a review of the responses obtained in this study, the following eight categories were determined to be relevant in the analysis of the responses: (1) Physical health/functioning, (2) Medical/health care, (3) Mental/emotional/spiritual health, (4) Social functioning/interpersonal issues, (5) Social support, (6) Financial/economic issues, (7) Policy, (8) Education/research.
AnalysesDescriptive statistics were conducted to characterize the demographics of the sample. Chi-square tests were used to compare differences in issues between: women of various race/ethnicities, age groups, and region of the U.S. (i.e., West, Midwest, South, East, Other).
Table 1 shows the demographic characteristics of the sample. The mean age of the respondents was 39.6 years old (range 18-64, SD = 7.8). Fifty-seven percent (57%) were African American, 21% Latina/Hispanic, 18% Caucasian, and 3% Asian American, Native American or Other.
T-tests showed no differences in mean age among the different racial/ethnic groups or among the different regions.
Most Important Issue Faced by a Person with HIV/AIDSThe top ranked issues by domain are presented for each ethnicity in Table 2. Five hundred and twenty-nine women completed the question on the most important issue the respondents faced as a person living with HIV/AIDS. Overall, respondents were significantly more likely to choose Physical health/functioning (19%). Medical/health care (18%), Social Functioning/interpersonal (17%), and Financial/economic issues (16%) as most important (p-value<0.001).
Demographic Differences in the Most Important Issue As a Person with HIV/AIDSAlthough chi-square analyses did not result in significant differences in the issues faced as a person living with HIV/AIDS by race/ethnicity, age group, or region, there were differences in the most important issues faced as women.
Demographic Differences in the Most Important Issue As a Woman with HIV/AIDSAlthough chi-square analyses did not result in significant differences in the most important issues faced as a woman living with HIV/AIDS by race/ethnicity, age group, or region, there were significant differences in the most important issue by race/ethnicity among the respondents from the Western region (p<0.017). Latinas were more likely to mention physical health/functioning issues, African Americans were more likely to mention social functioning/interpersonal issues, and Caucasians were more likely to mention issues such as social support, education/research and policy.
Additionally, the issue the respondent felt was most important as a person living with HIV/AIDS was found to be significantly associated with the most important issue as a woman living with HIV/AIDS (p<0.001). This was true specifically for those who felt that physical health/functioning, medical/health care, or social functioning/interpersonal issues were most important discussion.
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