New Research on Women's Experiences of ACTS

Now available - results from 3 mappings of HIV positive women's experiences of care, treatment and support in Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania, conducted by ICW. The Tanzania and Kenya mappings provide short presentations of the results. Results from mixed sex and service provider focus groups are presented also but the main emphasis of each report is on the results from the women only focus groups and questionnaires. The Namibia report is a more personal description of the researcher’s experiences of conducting the mapping with the responses to the questions annexed. We feel that the two different styles of presentation give a richer picture of the process and results.

 

The reports reveal, among other issues, how women face pressure, including violence, to share their medications as well as problems with securing permission from male family members to access services. Poverty also affects adherence through lack of access to good nutrition, pressures to sell medications and problems securing funds to travel to health centres and pay for services. Even when ART is free bribes are often demanded and charges made for related treatment for OIs and STIs. Most of the participants have experienced stock-outs of medications, unavailability of related services and some women are even told they have to go on contraceptives to access treatment. Nearly all have faced discrimination from health care workers or violations of their right to confidentiality. This of course impacts on the effectiveness of services and sometimes prevent women from disclosing their status to health care workers. Health workers lack of appreciation of the barriers faced by HIV positive women in accessing and adhering to treatment has lead to a feeling among them that clients were 'difficult to manage'.

 

We hope that the findings will contribute to advocacy for increased political support and resources for addressing the gendered barriers to care, treatment and support and an increased understanding that the connection between treatment and improved well-being can not be simply gauged by the numbers of women and men accessing ARVs. Access to care, treatment and support is not only about getting medications. It's about quality support, advice, and options obtainable for all. It’s also about changing the conditions of women’s lives so HIV positive women can use those essential treatments successfully.

 

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Kenya ACTS mapping.doc199.5 KB
Tanzania ACTS mapping.doc212 KB
Namibia ACTS mapping.doc294 KB