Self-care symptom-management strategies amongst women living with HIV /AI DS in an urban area in KwaZulu-Natal
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People living with HIV and AIDS experience a number of symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, fever and anxiety during the various stages of the illness. This has a negative effect on their quality of life. Women are the most commonly infected group and are at greater risk of acquiring HIV than men. In addition to their vulnerability, women have other responsibilities in society and expectations from society to fulfil. Women’s health-seeking and health practice behaviours are often hindered by a number of factors, including family responsibilities, poverty and fear. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study aimed at exploring the self-care symptom management strategies used by women living with HIV and AIDS in an urban area in KwaZulu- Natal in 2006. Eleven participants were selected through a purposive sampling method until saturation was reached. Individuals were assessed in depth, using the symptom-management strategy interview. Qualitative content analysis was used to examine the transcribed interviews, using a deductive approach based on the categories of self-care symptom-management strategies. Various physical and psychological symptoms and a number of self-care symptom-management strategies were reported by the participants and these included taking medication and seeking help. The study makes recommendations on how to improve women’s ability to employ a self-care strategy in managing their HIV- and AIDS-related symptoms.