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Women with HIV/AIDS described several forms of positive change resulting from their illness

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QUESTION: What are the perceptions of illness related positive change among women living with HIV/AIDS?


Qualitative study.


New York City, New York, USA.


54 women (mean age 36 y) were recruited through advertisements, flyers, and community outreach to health, social, and advocacy organisations. Inclusion criteria were HIV antibody seropositivity or diagnosis of AIDS; residence in metropolitan New York City; if Hispanic, were Puerto Rican (of any race) and living on the mainland for ≥4 years, or if African-American or white, were native born and non-Hispanic; and no IV drug use in the previous 6 months. 18 were African-American, 19 were non-Hispanic white, and 17 were Puerto Rican. 56% had AIDS, 23% were symptomatic, and 21% were asymptomatic.


Women participated in 2 semistructured interviews within a 1 month period, with each session lasting about 2 hours. Interviews began with a general question about changes because of HIV/AIDS, and then specific changes in behaviour, relationships, spirituality, goals, and how the …

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  • Source of funding: National Institute for Mental Health.

  • For correspondence: Dr K Siegel, Center for the Psychosocial Study of Health and Illness, Joseph L Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 100 Haven Avenue Suite 6A, New York, NY 10032, USA. Fax +1 212 304 7268.