Reflections on living with HIV over time: Exploring the perspective of HIV-infected women over 50

Christina Psaros, Jennifer Barinas, Gregory K. Robbins, C. Andres Bedoya, Elyse R. Park, Steven A. Safren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Conclusion: Themes and issues identified by this study may help guide interventions across the lifespan for women with HIV.

Results: Findings are described across the following themes: (1) experiences at diagnosis, (2) uncertainty of disease course, (3) acceptance, and (4) living well with HIV. Participants appeared to be well adjusted to their HIV diagnosis and described a progression to acceptance and survivorship; they identified strategies to live well in the context of HIV. For some, health-related uncertainty about the future remained. These findings were organized into a model of coping with HIV.

Objectives: Approximately 32.7% of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the USA are now over the age of 50. Women comprise a significant percentage of the US HIV epidemic and the percentage of women diagnosed with HIV continues to grow; however, little is known about women's experiences living and coping with HIV over time. The goal of this study was to explore the experiences of US women over 50 living with HIV to better understand how they make sense of their diagnosis and cope with their illness over time and during the aging process.

Method: Nineteen women (mean age = 56.79, SD = 4.63) referred from Boston-area organizations and hospitals completed one-time, in-depth individual interviews, out of which 47% of the participants were identified as Black/African Americans, and 37% as White. The average time since diagnosis was 16.32 years (SD = 5.70). Inclusion criteria included: (1) female sex, (2) aged 50 or older, (3) HIV diagnosis, and (4) English speaking. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using a grounded theory approach and NVivo 9 software.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adjustment
  • aging
  • coping
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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