The experience of pregnancy among women living with HIV in Nordic countries: A qualitative narrative enquiry
The success of antiretroviral therapy has resulted in the normalization of pregnancy among women living with HIV and a very low risk of perinatal transmission of HIV. Despite these advances, women living with HIV still face complex medical and psychosocial issues during pregnancy. The purpose of this study is to describe experiences of pregnancy and the relevance of social support among women living with HIV in Nordic countries.Methods:
This qualitative study examined data from pregnant women living with HIV from sites in Denmark, Sweden and Finland from 2019 to 2020. Data were collected in the third trimester via individual interviews using a hybrid, narrative/semistructured format. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using narrative thematic analysis.Results:
In total, 31 women living with HIV were enrolled, of whom 61% originated from an African country and 29% from a Nordic country. The analysis generated four primary narrative themes: just a normal pregnancy, unique considerations and concerns, interactions with healthcare, and social support. Women living with HIV have a strong desire to have normal pregnancies and to be treated like any other pregnant woman. However, this normality is fragile, and being pregnant and living with HIV does come with unique considerations and concerns, such as fear of transmission, antiretroviral therapy, and the need for specialized care, which are fundamental to the women’s experiences. Interactions with healthcare providers and social support influence their experiences in both positive and negative ways.Conclusion:
The findings emphasize a sense of normality in pregnancy among women living with HIV. However, pregnancy does come with unique considerations and concerns, which highly influence the women’s experience of pregnancy. Healthcare providers should focus on person-centered care, ensuring continuity and that women living with HIV do not feel discriminated against throughout their pregnancy.