Cultural Implications of Death and Loss from AIDS Among Women in South Africa

Juliet Iwelunmor, Collins O. Airhihenbuwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over 1.8 million people have died of AIDS in South Africa, and it continues to be a death sentence for many women. The purpose of this study was to examine the broader context of death and loss from HIV/AIDS and to identify the cultural factors that influenced existing beliefs and attitudes. The participants included 110 women recruited from 3 communities in South Africa. Focus group methodology was used to explore their perceptions surrounding death and loss from HIV/AIDS. Using the PEN-3 cultural model, our findings revealed that there were positive perceptions related to how women cope and respond to death and loss from HIV/AIDS. Findings also revealed existential responses and negative perceptions that strongly influence how women make sense of increasing death and loss from HIV/AIDS. In the advent of rising death and loss from HIV/AIDS, particularly among women, interventions aimed at reducing negative perceptions while increasing positive and existential perceptions are needed. These interventions should be tailored to reflect the cultural factors associated with HIV/AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-151
Number of pages18
JournalDeath Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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