Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Terry Mitchell

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


In spite of the increasing number of women infected with HIV around the world, little is known about the psychosocial experiences of these women. In the mid-1990s, medical advances dramatically altered the experiences of living with HIV/AIDS. The shifting medical climate raised new social and psychological questions such as coping strategies and the possibility of gaining access to resources and services in the community. In this qualitative study, I examined how 5 women living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Ontario deal with their daily psychosocial needs and challenges. Based on a life history methodology, responses of participants were coded and analyzed in relation to the ecological framework of community psychology. The thematic analysis indicated that despite the existing medical, governmental, and community support provided in a Canadian context for women living with HIV/AIDS participants nevertheless faced numerous daily challenges. Psychosocial challenges that were identified included: stigma and social exclusion fear of death, suicidal ideation, as well as lack of adequate or appropriate support from healthcare professionals and psychologists. In addition participants also noted frequent experiences of loneliness, housing problems, poverty and unemployment as part of their every day challenges. Although the women reported adequate levels of support, it was also noted that there is an urgent need for various directions for enhanced services for HIV/AIDS women. The findings of the study are discussed in relation to the development of holistic, psychosocial strategies to address the daily needs and challenges of women living with HIV/AIDS. Findings have conceptual and methodological implications for future psychosocial research on the quality of life issues on women living with HIV/AIDS.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons