HIV prevention within maternal-child health services has increased in many developing countries, but many HIV-infected women in developing countries still receive insufficient postnatal care. This study explored the experience of 30 HIV-infected women in Vietnam in accessing HIV-related postnatal care, the role of felt and enacted stigma in accessing services, and the effects of participation in a self-help group on utilization of available services.
Many HIV-infected women were not provided with adequate information on postnatal care by health workers. Most women reported both felt and enacted stigma that affected their access to care. Involvement in self-help groups improved the women’s self-esteem, increased knowledge about HIV, and had a positive effect on both felt and enacted stigma from family, community, and health services. These results suggest the need for better information provision and better referral systems within the health services and suggest that establishing self-help groups can diminish felt stigma and facilitate access to services for women and their children.