Depression and coping strategies among Vietnamese women living with HIV: A qualitative study

Glob Public Health. 2020 Jul;15(7):1050-1061. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2020.1731566. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


Women living with HIV (WLWH) are more likely to suffer from depression than seronegative women and are also more likely to suffer from depression than men living with HIV. There is limited depression research with WLWH in Vietnam. Twenty in-depth interviews with WLWH were conducted to identify pathways leading to depression and coping strategies for depression. Participants were recruited from an antiretroviral treatment clinic in northern Vietnam. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed, translated, and analysed to identify key themes. All participants reported sudden loss of social support, debilitating depression, and suicidal ideation in the first six months after HIV diagnosis. While some were able to cope with their status after several months, others continued to struggle due to HIV-related stigma that was perceived as more isolating for WLWH than for men. Women who were able to effectively cope with depression found ways to re-establish connections to family and community. Interventions to improve mental wellbeing should link WLWH to mental health services immediately after diagnosis and address loss of support and stigma, as they contributed to the onset and persistence of depression after HIV diagnosis. Community-level HIV stigma reduction interventions may also help repair broken social bonds and foster new ones.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Vietnam; depression; qualitative research; women’s health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Stigma
  • Vietnam / epidemiology