Background: More than half of adults living with HIV today are women Worldwide. In Tanzania HIV prevalence was about 1.5 times higher for women than men among blood donors (12.5% and 9.1% respectively). While care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS is taking a new role, the use of anti-retroviral therapy remains unaffordable to many women living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. There are limited care and support programmes in the country and ARVs are not part of it due to restrictive costs. The family members and relatives provide most of the support and meet all the treatment costs.
Objectives: The main objective of the study was to find out the opinion of women living with HIV/AIDS regarding care and support from family members, health workers and to determine how women experience and view disclosure of their HIV serostatus.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among women living with HIV/AIDS. Semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Three NGOs providing care and support were randomly selected for the study. One hundred and fifty six women living with HIV/AIDS were selected for the study from three different centers providing the information related to care and support in Dar es Salaam. Participants were invited in the study and interviewed, on a voluntary basis.
Results: The mean age of respondents was 35 years. The majority in age group 26-35 years (43.6%). A majority were diagnosed as positive within the past two years and more than half (50.6%) had primary education. Thirty two percent were single, (21%) widowed and (22%) were married.
Respondents differ in their reasons for testing for HIV. The most common reason given was illness (50%), followed by death of Child or partner (24%), antenatal checkup (14%) and health check up (11%). Of all participants 80% after receiving the HIV positive results disclosed to their family members and nearly half disclosed to their sister (38.4%). The reason cited for disclosing were mostly to receive support from their family members. Twenty percent reported that they did not disclose their HIV status to any family members and the reason most cited for not disclosing was fear of stigmatization, discrimination and abandonment or rejection. Most of the services from health workers were not considered adequate women reported that they want health workers to understand their condition (32%), they want health workers to have sympathy (33.3%) and the rest cited that they wanted acceptance from Health workers and to promote positive living (13%).
Conclusion: Women living with HIV/AIDS have their own needs and concerns, which are probably addressed by neither family members nor Health workers. Therefore, it is important to involve all women in all programmes to address issue of care for those infected with HIV/AIDS.