WP 71 "My Virus, My Healthcare": Perspectives of Sub-Saharan African Migrant Women with HIV/AIDS on Treatment and Care in Belgium

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
International Ballroom
Agnes Arrey, Ph.D Student1, Johan Bilsen, Ph.D1, Patrick Lacor, MD2 and Reginald Deschepper, Ph.D1, 1Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, 2Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases/AIDS Reference Center, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Background:  Sub-Saharan African (SSA) migrant women with HIV/AIDS receiving treatment and care in Western European countries associate their resilience to HIV/AIDS to the availability, accessibility and quality of healthcare. The main aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of SSA migrant women with HIV/AIDS on the healthcare provided in Belgium.

Methods:  Qualitative in-depth face-to-face interviews were done with English and French speaking SSA migrant women with HIV/AIDS receiving healthcare in Belgium. Eligible participants were purposively recruited and informed about the objective of the study by healthcare professionals in a Brussels AIDS Reference Centre. Thematic content analysis was conducted to identify themes based on grounded theory.

Results:  Twenty-two SSA migrant women participated in the qualitative study. Most participants reported not having to pay for the HIV treatment and care. HIV healthcare cost is significantly covered by contributions of the national health insurance. The patients receive individualised care depending on their specific health conditions. Overall, participants believe that the tailored treatment and care they receive contributes in restoring their self-dignity, as they are better able to take care of their health and other basic needs. The environment where they are now living fosters HIV/AIDS prevention through available and accessible modern healthcare services.

Conclusions:  SSA migrant women believe that available and accessible treatment and care makes living with HIV/AIDS in Belgium tolerable despite the chronicity and seriousness of the disease. Dispensed HIV treatment and care improves quality of health and restores self-esteem of HIV/AIDS patients. Providing free treatment and prevention services to SSA migrant women and other vulnerable groups with HIV/AIDS is imperative for achieving better health outcomes for patients and reduce new HIV cases.