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Sexuality and childbearing as it is experienced by women living with HIV in Sweden: a lifeworld phenomenological study

Journal article
Authors Ewa Carlsson-Lalloo
Marie Berg
A. Mellgren
Marie Rusner
Published in International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being
Volume 13
Issue 1
ISSN 1748-2623
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Keywords HIV, women, sexuality, reproduction, health, phenomenology, human-immunodeficiency-virus, antiretroviral therapy, positive women, infected women, life expectancy, transmission, health, pregnancy, people, stigma, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Health Sciences


The effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment has reduced sexual HIV transmission and motherto-child-transmission. To optimally support women living with HIV, health care providers need deepened knowledge about HIV, sexuality and childbearing. The aim of this study was to describe the phenomenon sexuality and childbearing as experienced by women living with HIV in Sweden. Data were collected by phenomenon-oriented interviews with 18 HIV-positive women. A reflective lifeworld analysis based on phenomenological philosophy was conducted, describing the meaning structure of the phenomenon. The essence of the phenomenon is that perceptions about HIV and its contagiousness profoundly influence sexual habits and considerations in relation to pregnancy and childbearing. These perceptions are formed in combination with knowledge and interpretations about HIV by the women themselves and by their environments. The essence is further described by its constituents: Risk of transmission imposes demands on responsibility; The contagiousness of HIV limits sexuality and childbearing; Knowledge about HIV transmission provides confident choices and decisions; and To re-create sexuality and childbearing. Although HIV has a low risk of transmission if being well treated, our study shows that HIV-positive women feel more or less contagious, which influences sexuality and decision-making in relation to become pregnant and give birth.

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