Experiences of HIV status disclosure among single mothers in Nyakibale, Rukungiri district, western Uganda
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Stigma and discrimination experienced by single mothers living with HIV among other experiences associated with HIV/AIDS tend to make it difficult for them to disclose their positive status. Such experiences are often linked with having feelings of rejection, fear, shame, isolation, shock and stress. This study examined the experiences of HIV status disclosure among single mothers in Nyakibale, Rukungiri district, Western Uganda. Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 purposively selected single mothers who had been on ART for more than two months and were voluntarily receiving medication from Nyakibale hospital, Rukungiri district. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The main findings indicate that fear of stigma and discrimination and related experiences were the main reasons hindering single mothers from freely disclosing their HIV positive status. Stigma was found to cut across all the interactions in the social lives of these single mothers living with HIV in Nyakibale area. In response, single mothers with HIV used various strategies to cope up with a positive HIV status in a stigmatized environment namely spiritual devotion, pre-emptive disclosure, normalization, social and psychological support and concealment of drugs. Self and internalized stigmas characterized by fear, blame, neglect, isolation was found to play a role in hindering single mothers from disclosing their HIV positive status. Therefore, there is need to reveal the conditions that might reduce these unhealthy experiences and facilitate disclosure among single mothers. This can be done by educating families and communities about roles and responsibilities in creating a favorable environment for people living with HIV (PLWHIV) to disclose without being stigmatized.