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Health Care Women Int. 1999 Jan-Feb;20(1):93-103.

HIV-positive mothers and stigma.

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  • 1Women's Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Our purpose in this paper is to demonstrate how stigma pervades the lives of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive mothers and their children. Data from a grounded theory study on HIV-positive mothers are used to illustrate Goffman's theory of stigma. This research is an example of "emergent fit," where extant theory is discovered by the interpretive researchers to fit much of the data. The sample included 18 HIV-positive mothers who participated in in-depth interviews. The HIV-positive mothers valued being perceived as normal but acknowledged that normalcy was lost for them because of the stigma of HIV. Consequently, they tried to pass as normal by managing information and manipulating their environment. They attempted to cover up their illness by lying and pretending. Health care professionals can provide quality, client-centered care when they understand the power that stigma holds over these women and the strategies that effectively mitigate the stigma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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