In 2007, the estimated HIV and AIDS case rates among adult and adolescent African-American females in the United States was 60.6 per 100,000, as compared to 3.3 per 100,000 for adult and adolescent white American females. Women living with HIV or AIDS often face complex social problems that may inhibit them from accessing resources and healthcare services to assist them in coping with the disease. In-depth interviews and direct observations utilizing open-ended note taking were conducted at an HIV service provider’s office to determine the unique needs that develop because of these complex social issues, specifically among HIV positive women of color in Washington, DC. Ethnographic methods were used to address the study’s research questions among 10 women of different ages and backgrounds in group settings at a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. The qualitative results of the study indicate that the women dealt with a myriad of social and mental issues related to their diagnosis, such as fear of disclosure to family and friends. The study also revealed that the women were in dire need of mental health services to address their unresolved issues regarding their diagnosis. The implications of this research add to the growing body of literature on the mental and social health needs of women of color who are HIV positive.


Qualitative Research, HIV/AIDS, African American Women, Health Disparities, Washington, DC, Social Services

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