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Table 2 Experiences of new diagnoses among HIV-positive persons: major themes and subthemes

From: Experiences of new diagnoses among HIV-positive persons: implications for public health

Number a) Experiences of new diagnoses Classification of first reaction/final themes
1 I became very worried and did not even know what to do. I even wanted to kill myself. Traumatised, expressed negative reactions
2 When I heard it I was devastated and very worried.
3 I was very frustrated and worried when I was told; in fact, I cried.
4 It was very hard for me when I first heard it; in fact, I cried and cried.
5 It worried me very much; in fact, I was very frustrated. I even decided to take poison so that I will die before my sickness becomes worse.
6 In fact, I was heartbroken and I did not believe the nurses … The doctor … I didn’t believe him. He gave me a report to take to the hospital but I threw the paper away because I didn’t believe what he told me.
7 I was very surprised and shocked when I was first told I had this disease. It was very heartbreaking.
8 I was very worried at first.
9 In fact, I was disturbed initially.
10 I was disturbed but because they have drugs to treat it I was OK.
11 I was disturbed, I was worried.
12 I was really worried and disturbed.
13 It has been a very bad experience … people may think when you have HIV it is promiscuity.
14 I was disturbed, the first day I was told, I was greatly disturbed …. I was greatly disturbed and I said I will kill myself … I was always crying.
15 I was really disturbed. That day I cried.
16 When I was first diagnosed with HIV and was told I had HIV, I decided to break up with my wife because I was confused … It wasn’t easy … it wasn’t easy at all … I felt so bad, I felt very, very bad.
17 Oh, I was worried but didn’t say anything.
18 I was disturbed. I had to be disturbed because I didn’t expect it. I was disturbed.
19 I was initially frightened that I would die because when you are told that you have this you would think that you were going to die.
20 It seemed to be untrue.
21 I was scared when I was told that I had the disease, so I did not want to be with anyone. When I was first informed about my status I would not even take medication.
22 I can’t tell because I was ill for a long time so when I was told about it I only continued to take medications. Resigned: expressed neutral reactions
23 I didn’t really do anything, as for sickness, its sickness so I didn’t really do anything.
24 I accepted the result. Resigned: accepted diagnosis
25 When I was told I was not perturbed because I knew people who were also taking the drug.
26 There was nothing I could do about it.
b) Influences on experiences of new HIV-positive diagnoses Sway
  Major theme: Resigned—expressed neutral reactions Very few
  • Had long illness prior to diagnosis  
  • Accepted illness as inevitable, and could happen anytime  
  Major theme: Resigned—accepted diagnosis Few
  I experienced persistent comorbidities; resultantly, I self-tested for HIV  
  Major theme: Traumatised, expressed negative reactions Vast majority
  i. Most respondents: I experienced comorbidities hence I voluntarily tested for HIV  
  ii. Nearly half/slim minority: spouse/partner was HIV+; resultantly:
• I knew I had contracted the infection;
• healthcare workers tested me for it
  iii. Few: Spouse/partner had the infection so I tested voluntarily for it  
  iv. Few: I was pregnant; resultantly I got tested mandatorily at healthcare centre during antenatal care  
c) What facilitated transitioning to accepting HIV-positive status? Sway
  Major theme: Resigned—accepted diagnosis or expressed neutral reactions Few
  There were no need for transitioning for acceptance of diagnosis; readily embraced diagnosis  
  Major theme: Resigned—Accepted diagnosis Few
  We are not alone in this; we already know other PLWHAs  
  Major theme: Resigned--expressed neutral reactions Very few
  • Already had comorbidities; started treatment right away  
  • Sickness is inevitable; there was/is no need for me to worry about the HIV+ diagnosis  
  Major theme: Traumatised, expressed negative reactions Vast majority
  i. Most important factor: counselling/encouragement from healthcare workers to commence and adhere to treatment Majority
  ii. Second most important factor: PLWHAs were aware of current medical breakthrough in treating HIV/AIDS which can prevent death from AIDS Some/slim minority
  iii. There was no need to worry about the HIV+ diagnosis Few
  • There is no need to contest/challenge medical diagnosis  
  • I had to face reality  
  • I lived by biblical principles and did not yield to suicidal ideation  
  iv. My mother-in-law emphatised with me and sent me to VCT One person
  v. I have still not settled done to the HIV+ diagnosis One person
  vi. Respondents gave no reason for their transitioning Nearly a third of those who reacted negatively to the initial diagnosis
  1. Source: Author’s fieldwork, June-July, 2015