OBJECTIVE: To categorize and describe the daily sources of stress encountered by HIV-infected women. METHODS: Using a semi-structured questionnaire, 150 interviews were conducted among HIV-infected women who attended the Reference and Treatment Center for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Aids in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, between July and December 1997. The studied variables were: demographics, family structure, risk perception, sexuality, access to health system, treatment compliance, drug use, and significant and stressful events. Stressful events are further discussed here. RESULTS: Only 14% of the stressful events are directly related to the treatment and illness itself. Sources of stress were categorized as follows: family relations (17%); partner relationship (12%); children (14%); illness (14%); non-family relationship (9%); financial (8%); professional (7%); discrimination issues (7%); others (4%); and no response (8%). CONCLUSIONS: Stressful events are mainly related to affective/relationship sources, most often associated to the HIV stigma and mostly to women-related subjects. Health care professionals should provide integral care to HIV-infected women.
Women; Stress; Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; HIV; Comprehensive health care; Quality of life; Women's health; Life change events