In 1982, Haiti became the first developing country to be blamed for the origin of AIDS, resulting in stigmatization of Haitians. Women in Haiti have suffered the most. This investigation used an internet survey hosted on a website with a new “Haitian Station” in order to attract HIV positive Haitian women to the study opportunity. The explored stigmatization, depression, social support, and experiences of HIV as traumatic—yet potentially leading to positive growth and transformation. The sample of 176 HIV positive had a mean age of 36 years, while 57% were without children, 75% did not live with a partner, and 65% were unemployed. Overall health status was very good for 31%, while 39% said their healthcare was good to excellent. Over half (51%) were not taking antiretroviral medication. Some 10% never used condoms and 19% rarely used them. Those employed and taking antiretroviral medication tended to use condoms at higher rates.
Regarding depression, 6% were severely depressed, while the majority (89%) had anywhere from mild severe depressions. The unemployed had higher depression than the employed. Depression was predicted by employment, household income, quality of care, overall HIV stigma, and family stress, accounting for 25% of the variance in the model.
Regarding stigmatization, women showed greatest concerns about public attitudes and personalized stigma. Those with no medical care had more family support compared to those who did receive medical care for HIV; yet, those who received no medical for HIV also had higher family stress and higher non-family stress. Regarding posttraumatic growth, areas highest ranked included growth for how people related to others, seeing new possibilities, and having personal strength. Those who were older had higher levels of traumatic experiences after an HIV diagnosis, as did those who received medical care for their HIV. The best predictor of post-traumatic growth was receipt of medical care, age, and more non-family stress, accounting for 17% of the variance.
Conclusions address the need to seek foundation support for the creation of mental health services and expansion of social support services.