HIV/AIDS Disclosure and Motherhood: A Critical but Neglected Agency

Juliet Iwelunmor, Pennsylvania State University
Collins Airhihenbuwa, Pennsylvania State University

HIV/AIDS disclosure is often cited as one of the numerous challenges encountered by persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). This study set out to explore the disclosure experiences of PLWHA in three South African communities: Kyelithsha, Gugulethu and Mitchell's Plains. Data was obtained from focus group discussions in these communities. Using the PEN-3 cultural model, we examined the role of the collective (particularly motherhood) in shaping decisions to disclose sero-positive status. Since motherhood is viewed as sacred in traditions of all African societies, we posit that HIV/AIDS disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa is not only a contestation over meanings of the self, particularly in relation to the collective, but also an understanding of the roles of mothers with navigating between positive and negative costs associated with disclosing. The findings highlight the critical need to take into account the agency of the collective (i.e motherhood) in ameliorating the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS disclosure.

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Presented in Poster Session 5