HIV infection is a major public health concern, with a range of negative impacts on People Living with HIV (PLHIV). A qualitative study in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, using in-depth interviews with 26 Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) was conducted to understand HIV risk factors and impact and their access to HIV care services. This paper describes the self-response of WLHIV towards negative HIV-related experiences facing them and adds to the existing literature which tends to focus on HIV impact only, as opposed to strategies that many WLHIV have used to empower and educate themselves and their family/community. Participants were recruited using the snowball sampling technique. Data analysis was guided by a qualitative data analysis framework. Our study highlighted that WLHIV experienced psychological challenges, stigma and discrimination. However, they demonstrated remarkable self-response and capacity in pursuing effective strategies and support to protect themselves, and educating themselves and others around them to rebuild trust and regain respect and acceptance. Our findings indicate that the needs of WLHIV should be addressed through policy and practice to help them cope with HIV-related psychological and social challenges effectively. Family and community members seem to play an important role in those negative challenges against WLHIV, thus there is also a need for HIV education programs for family and community members to enhance their HIV-health literacy and acceptance of PLHIV.
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