OBJECTIVE: To examine ethnic, relationship, health, and mental health factors for a cohort of women with HIV infection attending an inner London clinic. DESIGN AND METHODS: Structured schedules were utilised to analyse ethnic group, family, and reproduction issues, mental and physical health for 100 women drawn consecutively from attenders at an inner London HIV clinic RESULTS: 51% of the women were non-ethnic minority groups and 49% were from ethnic groups. HIV testing was often as a result of symptoms or partner illness. One in five had disclosed their status to one person only or no one. Ethnic minority women were more likely to restrict disclosure. Forty seven per cent of the women had 100 children with more children reported in ethnic minority families; 28% of the children had been tested for HIV and five were confirmed HIV positive; 9% of children were born after HIV diagnosis. Nineteen women reported one or more termination of pregnancy, the majority before HIV diagnosis. Three quarters had a partner of whom 56 knew the partner's status. Women with HIV positive partners were more likely to have children. Women kept in ignorance of partner status were more likely to be ethnic minority women. Thirty two per cent had an AIDS diagnosis, diagnosed mostly in the UK. Medical and counselling service uptake was high. Gynaecological problems were common (49% had one or more problem) and 34% had at least one hospital admission. A wide range of counselling issues were recorded, with variations over time. Suicidal issues were relevant for 13% of women (69% ideation, 31% attempts). Significant life events were noted for many women with allied coping demands. CONCLUSIONS: There are a wide range of issues for women with HIV and systematic differences between ethnic and non-ethnic women and those with or without children.
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