Examining HIV-Related Attitudes and Behaviors among Haitian Immigrant Women in Florida

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Public Health


John Oswald


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an epidemic that disproportionally affects the Haitian immigrant women in Palm Beach County, Florida. I have learned about this association from others' published research that the Haitian immigrant women within this locality are more likely to be hospitalized for HIV-related complications and to delay seeking care than are other racial and ethnic groups. The knowledge on the perceptions of lives for Haitian immigrant women as it relates to the HIV transmission could help fight this virus. Guided by the health belief model, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences and perceptions of Haitian immigrant women about vertical HIV transmission. Data were collected via 25 interviews with HIV-positive Haitian immigrant women of 18 to 65 years old. Three-step approach of Creswell was used under which data were reduced into themes, coded, and condensed. The respondents reported that the inadequate healthcare system, lack of HIV testing, lack of HIV education, HIV stigma, and the Haitian culture impacted their lives and vertical HIV transmission. Twelve out of twenty-five participants suggested that cultural factors have a significant role to play in the high rates of vertical HIV transmission in Palm Beach County. Participants emphasized the role of polygamy as the main cultural issue that promotes vertical HIV transmission in Palm Beach County. This study addresses the gap in the literature by adding to the knowledge of the perceptions of Haitian immigrant women as it relates to vertical HIV transmission, the intended audience of this study are Haitian immigrant women and the healthcare providers.

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