Experiences of sexual violence and relocation in the lives of HIV infected Canadian women

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McKeown, Iris ; Reid, Sharon ; Orr, Pamela (2004)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v63i0.17944
  • Subject: HIV, women’s health, aboriginal health, sexual abuse, child abuse

Objectives. To investigate the role, if any, that violence and physical relocation may play in the acquisition of HIV infection in Canadian women. Study Design. The present study is qualitative. Methods. Using in-depth open-ended interviews conducted among HIV-positive women volunteers as a method. Results. Twenty women were interviewed. Eighteen of the 20 were of aboriginal (First Nations) ethnicity. All participants reported experiences of isolation and violence in childhood (sexual abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse). Half of those who experienced childhood sexual abuse reported being afraid to disclose the events to adults at the time due to fear of reprisal and/or shame. The majority reported running away from home to escape violence, with subsequent involvement in the sex trade and drug abuse as economic and emotional survival coping strategies. Half reported previous incarceration in jail. The majority reported that they currently looked to community social programs for guidance and support. Conclusion. Early intervention programs must be implemented in partnership with communities to reduce family violence and create support networks for children, youth and adults at risk.Keywords: HIV, women’s health, aboriginal health, sexual abuse, child abuse
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