HIV Is My “Best” Problem: Living with Racism, HIV and Interpersonal Violence

  • Josephine Mazonde
  • Wilfreda (Billie) Thurston


Gender-based violence is a problem for women around the world. Although HIV/AIDS and interpersonal violence (IPV) have been studied extensively as separate entities, the connection between the two has received less attention than might be warranted. We argue that studying HIV/AIDS and IPV as intersecting issues is essential in understanding women’s experiences of either or both, and the results have implications for health policy. Through telling her story of living with HIV and IPV, an Aboriginal woman reveals a life where gender-based violence took place in the context of a history of colonialism and marginalization of her people. HIV was a much easier issue to discuss than the violence she had experienced in her life. Using a socioecological framework to interpret her story revealed that relationships with her children were just one casualty of intersecting oppressions. Services tended to treat either HIV or IPV but never to see her as whole person. The experience of surviving HIV/AIDS and IPV on a day-to-day basis negatively impacted her life and created a cycle of abuse, including self-abuse, which was difficult to escape. The results demonstrate the intertwined relationships of HIV/AIDS and IPV and factors at the personal, interpersonal, community and environmental levels that impact this relationship. The value of culturally safe approaches to care for HIV/AIDS is highlighted in this chapter.


Aboriginal People Childhood Trauma Cultural Safety Female Condom Aboriginal Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josephine Mazonde
    • 1
  • Wilfreda (Billie) Thurston
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.CalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Calgary Institute for Gender ResearchCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Ecosystems and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of Calgary Institute for Gender ResearchCalgaryCanada

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