Positive living in a predominantly Muslim society
: case study of women living with HIV in Bangladesh

  • Catherine Louise Street

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    This thesis describes the coping strategies of a small group of women living with HIV in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim and patriarchal society. I conducted a qualitative study in order to examine reactions to an HIV diagnosis and the role of factors such as family, community, faith and support services in the coping abilities of a small number of women living with HIV in Bangladesh. This then enabled me to explore how these factors align with the concept of ‘positive living’ with HIV, and assess potential constraints to adopting these behaviours and attitudes within a Bangladeshi context. 

    I conducted two group interviews with five Bangladeshi women who were regularly attending an HIV support service in the capital city of Dhaka. Descriptive phenomenology was selected as the methodological approach. I conducted several complementary interviews with staff employed in a variety of different roles in the organisation in order to enhance my understanding of the HIV support organisation and the services they offered. I also utilised participant observation to build rapport with individuals and to collect data through attending the monthly social days offered by the organisation for six months. I obtained additional data through informal meetings with several stakeholders involved in labour migration, HIV prevention and care. 

    In Bangladesh, I discovered, there are many social, cultural, economic and environmental constraints to adopting the behaviours and attitudes encouraged by the ‘living positively’ discourse. Despite these constraints, I contend that these women were able to deal with their initial emotions such as fear by accepting a new reality of living with HIV, which allowed them to be proactive in seeking the medical, social and other supports that are necessary to live with the virus. 

    Except where noted, all the work was done by the candidate.

    Note: Contains culturally or commercially sensitive content. Please note that access may be obtained with permission from the author.
    Date of AwardMar 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSuzanne Belton (Supervisor)

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