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Dirty diseased and undeserving the positioning of hiv positive women.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Travis K.Bost

Dirty, Diseased and Undeserving: the positioning of HIV Positive Women Sonia Lawless, Susan Kippax and June Crawford - The characterization of HIV infection as a sexually transmitted disease attracts to it the stigma associated with other sexually transmitted diseases, including notions of indiscriminate promiscuity, pollution, and uncleanliness - The other rote of transmission commonly discussed is injecting drug use, which adds to the suggestion that HIC is acquired through activities that are antisocial, unhygienic, and irresponsible - The HIV positive body is more often than not assumed to be male - Women living with HIV have been positioned as a source or potential source of infection - Contributed to widespread discrimination, with women being positioned as „dirty, diseased and undeserving‟, but the need and concerns of women have not been addressed - Women living with HIV became infected largely through „ordinary‟heterosexual sex - Injecting drug use (IDU) were accounted for by means such as medically acquired transmission - Women and their particular concerns have largely been ignored in the HIV/AIDS research literature - Women living with HIV are far less likely to be the object of research than men who are HIV positive - An overemphasis on marginalized groups such as sex workers and/or injecting drug users, when women are researched - These marginalized groups are regarded as potential sources of risk for the „general population‟, rather than as groups with their own needs. - Much of the research on women living with HIV/AIDS has focused upon reproduction, with an emphasis on the foetus or infant - 1993, Nation Centre in HIV Social Research, has been involved in documenting the experiences of women living with HIV/AIDS o Focus on the stigma and discrimination experienced by positive women, particularly in relation to the assumption by health care workers, that positive women are or have been drug users or „promiscuous‟ o It describes the tension that exists between the need to access HIV-related medical and social services, and the fear of further discrimination, and how this tension is played out in the women‟s lives. - Women Living with HIV/AIDS Project: an attempt to redress the imbalance that has occurred in research and, more importantly, to gain greater insight into the experiences of positive women Research Results 1. Discrimination: assumptions of health care workers - One of the women interviewed indicated that they had been negatively evaluated by health care professionals - Women believed that health care providers assumed that their sero-conversion was due to injecting drug use or sexual promiscuity even in the face of evidence to the contrary - Many of women‟s accounts indicate that doctors make assumptions that HIV status is determined by membership of a „risk group‟ o A woman who asks for an HIV antibody test is told that's not really necessary - When women have been diagnosed as HIV positive, they sometimes experience a level of questioning that indicates that doctors find it difficult to accept that they had not injected drugs, had not been a sex worker and were not promiscuous - The doctors were trying to convince them to „admit‟ that they had had unprotected sex with men, had worked as a sex worker or had shared needles - Not only women
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