Coping strategies among Mexican American women living with HIV
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The literature has documented the disproportionate rate of HIV infection among women of color, mainly, African American women and Latinas. The current trend shows that the number of cases affecting these sub-populations will continue to increase. A gap exists in the literature in understanding the coping strategies of Mexican American women living with HIV. Using an ethnographic approach, this research answers the central question of how Mexican American women live with and make meaning of their HIV status. This researcher used a sample of 15 Mexican American women living with HIV who had participated in the Mujeres Unidas support group in San Antonio, Texas. The most common theme found was how the role of faith was central to their lives. It was clear that this belief served as their primary source of strength. The findings suggest the need for social workers to examine new paradigms, strategies, and interventions that focus on the broad social, economic, and community factors that put Mexican American women disproportionately at risk for HIV. These factors include poverty, income and wealth inequality, poor quality of life, racism, sexism, and low socioeconomic status, which are all major risk factors for ill health and health disparities. This research demands that social workers and other researchers examining coping skills address the issues of resiliency and strengths perspective in understanding the ways in which the life journey unfolds for Mexican American women living with HIV. Although, this study focused on Mexican American women, future research is needed to compare this group to other women living with HIV as there may be cultural differences that exist. Additional research is needed in studying the role that religion plays in the lives of Mexican American women living with HIV as many of the participants revealed that they left things up to “God’s will.” Among the unexpected findings, the theme of viewing their situation from the perspective of “Un dia a la vez” (One day at a time) suggests that the belief that the course of their lives is not necessarily under their control which could be related to fatalism (fatalism).