Social workers’ perspectives on the experiences and challenges of women living with HIV
Women living with HIV (WLHIV) face a myriad of challenges which have an adverse influence on their multiple roles. Hence, the psychosocial support provided to HIV infected women by social workers is important to enhance the women’s social functioning. A qualitative research study was undertaken applying the explorative, descriptive and contextual strategy to explore and describe the experiences of social workers who witnessed the plight of women living with HIV in the Pietermaritzburg region of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Non-probability purposive and snowball sampling techniques were employed to select a sample of thirteen participants who met the set criteria. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews buttressed with open-ended questions were conducted with the participants. Digitally recorded data were transcribed and analysed applying Tesch’s eight steps. Data verification was guided by Guba’s model. Two themes emerged from data analysis, coupled with various issues. Women living with HIV grapple with issues related to fear of disclosure, stigma and discrimination while the ineffective delivery of social work services is attributed to lack of human resources, requisite knowledge and skills - these inhibit appropriate interventions to address women’s fear of disclosure and unfavourable working conditions. The paper concludes with suggestions for social work education, practice and further research.
Keywords: Women living with HIV, psychosocial support, social work.
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